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IBAS: General Info & Duties

“The house always wins” cliche is engraved with fire in the gambling scene. A monolithic figure against bettors cannot win in the long run. While the odds might favor the betting operators, that doesn't mean that true and fairness are absolute on their side.

When a bet slips, operators and customers come in stake, until the event decides the outcome: winners and losers. But when one side comes to disagree on the outcome (which is fairly common) things can heat up to boiling points.

While high profile argues of this type go to courtrooms, parties can settle their differences without the lengthy expense of lawsuits. The impartial mediation of a third party, through the logic of law and common sense can help to reach a ruling over the claims.

The Independent Betting Adjudication Service, best known as IBAS is one of them.

What is It?

The IBAS is a gambling-specialist Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Service, dedicated to provide free assistance to those claims over unfair results in ther betings. No matter the name of the business lottery, bingo, casinos, and sports bettings, The IBAS is there to resolve disagreements over betting disputes.

Before the 2005 Gambling Act was even considered, there was no protection to parts involved in a disputed bet. Even after the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act legalised off-course betting, those stakes were still considered a 'gentleman's agreement' and so those aggrieved by the way their bets had been settled had simply to take it stoically.

Interestingly, the Mirror Group-owned Sporting Life newspaper (IBAS precursor), addressed the grievances of bettors by informal agreement with the major bookmaking companies through its regular consumer column: The Green Seal Service. The column became so popular that in the mid-late 1990s it was pretty evident that the scale and nature of complaints justified a stand-alone service known as the Independent Betting Arbitration Service, who later switched its purpose to the IBAS we are familiar with.

In 2015 the IBAS went under the direction of the UK Gambling Commission to consider the fairness of the rules and terms used by licence holders when adjudicating on disputes. This means that it has powers and duties over it that allows honoring a dispute ruling without needing to go to court.

IBAS Objectives

Under principles of Championing Fair Play, Clear Communication and Professionalism, the IBAS has established a set of objectives that allows it to be efficient and impartial in the hard world of mediation. These are:

  • To provide as far as possible a conclusive determination on the settlement of disputes between licensed gambling operators and their customers

  • To complete the process in the shortest time frame possible allowing for all of the arguments and issues involved to be given appropriate examination and consideration

  • In doing so, to remove the need for the parties to enter into complex and expensive legal proceedings

  • Where IBAS is unable to adjudicate, to direct consumers to the most appropriate place for them to progress their complaint

  • To provide advice to consumers and gambling operators about how to avoid disputes

  • To assist regulators or other appropriate authorities in identifying any apparent need for regulatory intervention to prevent repeated poor industry practice

Following them has allowed the IBAS to adjudicate 6,282 disputes between licensed gambling operators and their customers conceded £634,426 to their rightful claimants in 2019.

What Does the IBAS Cover?

While the gambling industry as a whole might look the same, each sector and procedures possess its own perks, that by accident or intention create this type of incidents.

Bingo Halls

Calling the house and not being heard or considered before the next number is drawn.

Betting Shops & Gamstop Sites

Betting disputes covers a wide range of issues that includes those originated in betting shops, on sports betting sites not on Gamstop or apps, racecourses and other sporting venues.

Land-based Casinos

Most common cases are late placed bets for games of chance like roulette or craps, and questions about the ownership of winning bets.

Online Casinos

  • Unfair or broken games

Unless the claimant is very specific, fairness of a game is a matter that must be directed to the Gambling Commission.

  • Game software issues

Interruptions in connectivity by server or software failure, that affects successful bets.

  • Disputed offer terms

Offers or promotions not honored by the operator.

Non-Sector Specific Advice

  • Unfair or unfortunate

Fairness of rules, terms and conditions that govern each transaction.

  • Misleading or unfair advertisements

Any advert or promotion deemed to be misleading or unfair involving terms that the customer understood on an apparently false premise.

  • Bonus or free bet disputes

Disputes relate to the bonus and offer terms, which have the potential to invalidate the customer’s redemption.

Online Account Identity Disputes

Disputes involving accounts being closed and/or winnings being cancelled because a website operator alleges multi accounting.

What IBAS Does not Cover?

While any dispute about a bet, game or any other gambling transaction is considered, the IBAS doesn't take into account:

  • Any disputes relating to the standard of customer service provided, including anything relating to premises or facilities used where gambling takes place, including websites

  • Allegations of fixing, cheating or games operated in an unfair manner (these should be referred to the Gambling Commission or other appropriate regulatory authority)

  • Claims over excessively/irresponsibly gambling being allowed , unless there is evidence that the company has handled the situation irresponsibly and/or relied on unfair contract terms.

  • Complaints that persons under the age of 18 have been allowed to gamble.

  • Complaints about bets that were never processed/refused or accounts that are restricted or closed thereby denying the customer the opportunity to place a bet.

All complaints and similar issues that are not related to the outcome of an active bet or service with a betting operator must be addressed to the UK Gambling Commission.

IBAS Procedure

To adjudicate on disputes, a panel of experts in the fields of gambling and sports journalism is conformed. The panelists review the nature of the bet or game under dispute, considering what are the rules or terms that governed the transaction, and any industry precedent for settling similar disputes. If no relevant rules or industry precedent exists, the final decision will be determined in the most salomonic way using common sense principles.

Because the Independent Betting Adjudication Service is under the UKGC, their decisions can bind gambling operators with a Gambling Commission licence. Thereby, cases that are worth up to £10,000, can follow these rulings. If consumers disagree with the conclusion reached by IBAS or consider that the case worths more than that amount, the case can move to court.

If you are worried about transactional costs for a dispute settlement you must know that the IBAS service (even before coming under the wing of UKGC) is completely free. Licensed gambling operators under the terms and conditions they abide, pay a registration fee a year in advance to the UKGC and must follow the IBAS ruling over disputes. Relieving, isn't it?

Keep in mind that if an operator is not registered with the IBAS you will need to address to the Gambling Commission or ASA, if relevant, or to court. You can check the list of registered operators with the IBAS directory.

How to Raise a Dispute?

After exhausting every communication with the betting company in disregard, and not receiving any response or intention to settle an agreement, the process for raising a dispute with the IBAS can go forward with the following steps.

  1. Create an account;

  2. Once logged, explain your dispute in a very precise and concise matte, considering:

  • What you did, when and how you did it

  • What you expected the outcome to be

  • Why you expected that outcome

  • What the actual outcome was

  • Why you were told that was the case

  • Briefly, what your interaction with the company has been since

If applicable, remember to provide details such as your account number or account username or receipt/ticket number.

You must also provide any evidence such as photographs or screenshots which can be attached to the online adjudication form. the more relevant supports you hold, the more likely your case will proceed.

  1. Check always for any request for evidence or information. The only reason that disputes will have a faster or slower outcome depends on how promptly you answer those solicitudes.

How does the Resolution Process Work?

As the IBAS service is an user friendly one, making the process as simple as possible for claimant and operators is its priority. The following chart depicts how to proceed:

Which in essence comes by the following:

1a) If your dispute is with a land based operator, you should address the manager/Duty Manager or are manager when appropriate. If none of them hear your claim, contact IBAS.

1b) If your dispute is with an online operator contact their customer service team as soon as possible. In my experience most major companies have well prepared and oriented customer service departments that would forward to settle any dispute without the intervention of a third party such as the IBAS, as it can be a time consuming process for them.

2) If you do indeed end up turning to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service then you’ll find that the following is the order of events from that moment forwards:

  1. Submit the written dispute detailing the transaction attaching any relevant support.

  2. IBAS will contact the operator and request a written submission along with documentary evidence and details about the dispute.

  3. All the gathered evidence from the disputing sides is assessed to an independent Panel of experts.

  4. Panelists will request further information depending the case

  5. Once all submissions are considered, the Panel completes their adjudication.

  6. Ruling is posted simultaneously to both parties

  7. Parties in disagree can request a ruling review

Submissions that are considered vexatious or frivolous or in any way an abuse of the adjudication process, will be immediately turned down.

Appeal Against an IBAS Ruling

Reviews over rulings won't be considered just because the recipient is unhappy with them. While customers and operators can say that both hold the truth, they still must acknowledge that once the ruling is done, they have to comply with it.

However, If there is a valid reason like factual error or mistake in the ruling, new evidence that wasn't presented when the case was firstly considered must be brought within 40 days of receiving your ruling to appeal.

Final Words

Since its humble origins addressing a voice for those who found themselves caught in a once shady industry, the IBAS has evolved to show that fairness is an universal right that doesn't flips capriciously to either side during a dispute. Instead, every one of its decisions on the matter has required a thoughtful process before delivering a ruling to either side.

Enforcing gamblers and operators to seek agreement and conscience on their is the basis to promote a shift to a more self regulated industry, making gambling again a gentleman’s leisure.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes

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