By its nature, volume, and nowadays its complexity, gambling is bound to generate disputes. The UK gambling industry turns over in excess of £50 billion per year, and in common with any part of the retail or leisure sector, requires high-quality customer service standards. An essential element of this is the provision to gambling operators and their customers of a quick and effective means for resolving disputes. To resolve a dispute in an effective and credible manner requires the involvement of an authoritative and independent third party.
That is where the Independent Betting Adjudication Service comes into the equation. IBAS is a non-statutory organisation, set up in 1998 and charged with the delivery of authoritative adjudications to the betting industry. IBAS received the public endorsement of the Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office and the approval of the trade associations.
Before IBAS, the options for a betting consumer who perceived that their bet had not been correctly settled were very limited. For off-course bets the only option was the Green Seal Service provided by the Sporting Life newspaper. For on-course bets a limited service is provided by Tattersalls’ Committee. Both of these were conceived in an earlier era and were unsuited to provide effective adjudication to the modern day betting consumer.
IBAS's existence is due to the recognition of the betting industry of a need to provide better services to their customers. Legal endorsement of this approach arrived in 2007 with the commencement of the Gambling Commission as regulator of the commercial gambling industry.
One of the Gambling Commission’s primary objectives is to ensure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly, in support of which it has set out a comprehensive set of regulations for the industry. Prominent among its regulations are the requirements for dealing with disputes. The Commission says that any complaint not resolved by the operator, if it relates to the outcome of the complainant’s gambling transaction, becomes a dispute. "At this stage, operators must offer the complainant the opportunity to refer a dispute to an independent party."
The Commission has endorsed IBAS as the model for the provision of adjudication services and allows IBAS to meet the requirement placed on operators to pass the outcome of disputes to the Commission.
As this new era of regulation dawns, IBAS is increasing its role in advising on dispute prevention, as well as providing high-quality adjudication throughout the gambling industry.