Interview with Duncan Garvie about ThePOGG’s new announcement
ThePOGG.com approved for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Service by UKGC
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has approved ThePOGG.com as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. A spokesperson for ThePOGG.com stated:
We have been successfully managing player and casino disputes for over three years and our tally of complaints managed is now nearing 500. We are extremely proud of the fact that the UKGC has recognised the value of the service we provide and the integrity of our team. We look forward to working closely with the UKGC to continue mediating and acting as a conduit between players and operators.
ThePOGG.com is one of the first affiliate sector organisations to be granted ADR status by the UKGCand the individual responsible for managing the complaints side of ThePOGG has recently attained mediation and arbitration qualifications from The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, further adding to the quality of service ThePOGG can provide. Notably the ADR service provided by ThePOGG.com differs markedly from the services provided by all of the other ADR service operators in that there is absolutely no charge for utilising the experience the team at ThePOGG has. No ADR charges players for use of their service but ThePOGG is unique in providing a cost free service to operators wishing to call upon its team’s 10 years of experience in the online gambling industry. The ethos behind ThePOGG is to provide the best possible support service to those requiring dispute resolutions and to ensure that cost is not prohibitive – hence why the service is free to all.
The full license and it’s text can be viewed here: http://thepogg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/ThePOGG-approved-ADR-service-UKGC.pdf
We have managed to interview the manager of ThePOGG, Mr. Duncan Garvie, a well respected affiliate which has been in the industry for quite a while.
TheVoice: Wow, this is huge news for you guys, ThePOGG.com has been approved for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Service by UKGC. You are the first affiliate to be granted this license. How does it feel?
Duncan: In a word – fantastic! A significant amount of time was invested in getting the site ready to submit our application and seeing that work pay dividends is very very satisfying.
TheVoice: What was the main idea behind applying for this license and was this included in the masterplan when building ThePOGG?
Duncan: When ThePOGG was first started, the UKGC license hadn’t come into place yet and most of the market was still unsure of exactly what form it was going to take. So the ADR structure that exists today wasn’t a factor in the initial development of our business plan. That said, as soon as we became aware of the ADR system that the UKGC intended to implement it seemed like a natural extension of what we do already.
The primary objectives behind ThePOGG.com has always been to offer players a genuine service and resource to players. Our focus has always been on ensuring that we provide players with a wealth of information to help them make the best decisions regarding who to play with. To do that though, we need to ensure that player complaints are being taken care of appropriately. This focus on quality information has been continued in our newest product – POGGStrategies.com – which looks to offer the highest quality information on mathematically sound strategies for all casino games. Unlike so many other affiliates who focus on SEO and marketing, the player is our focus.
Initially we did have concerns that the UKGC license was going to restrict operators to ONLY discussing complaints with their listed ADR providers – this would have significantly impacted our complaint service making gaining ADR status essential to our ongoing business relationship with many UKGC accredited operators. As ThePOGG places such a strong emphasis on maintaining a positive reputation, ranking operators by their treatment of players rather than their willingness to pay upfront advertising fees, not being able to actively resolve complaints for our well placed operators would have significantly undermined our model.
Fortunately those concerns turned out to be unjustified. However that didn’t change our opinion of the value such an accreditation would bring. At the present time I’m confident that most people on both sides of the table in the online gambling industry would agree that the UKGC represent the most credible regulatory force in the market. Achieving ADR status involved significant work on our part and required us to answer a lot of questions regarding potential conflicts of interest for the UKGC. I feel that being the first affiliate operator to gain ADR status demonstrates how well our system holds up to external scrutiny and our commitment to integrity.
TheVoice: Can you shortly explain the process on which these disputes are received on your end and how are they disputed?
Duncan: From this point there will be minor differences between the way complaints are managed depending on whether the operator being complained about lists us as one of their ADRs. The essential difference is that an operator that lists us as an ADR has a responsibility to discuss complaints fully with us, whereas an operator that does not hold a UKGC license, or chooses not to list us as an ADR has the choice whether or not they will discuss the complaint. An operator choosing not to engage automatically results in a negative status for the final report and at that point we will often assist the player taking their complaint to whatever regulator body or ADR service the operator will talk to.
Beyond that difference the process for dealing with complaints is essentially the same. When a player submits a complaint firstly we review and publish the complaint, acknowledging that we have received the complaint. At this stage the complaint is published in such a manner that it is not publically available – only the submitting player and ThePOGG complaint team have access to the complaint thread. This system is set up this way to ensure that any accusations that are made are based in fact or removed before publication to prevent any unjustified damage being done to an operator’s reputation.
We then contact the operator that is being complained about to get there feedback on the issue. At this stage the process isn’t rigidly defined. There can be several rounds of back and forth communication between our team, the player and the operator, as we try to establish exactly what both parties feel the issues have been and whether terms and conditions have been adhered to.
Finally, once we feel we have all of the relevant information, where appropriate we will try to guide both parties to a reasonable middle ground and where there is one party that is clearly right we will provide the involved parties with our conclusion the justifications for those conclusions. The only exceptions to this is where there’s security concerns suggesting that a player has been engaged in illegal activities at which point we provide the conclusions without the justifications so as not to educate others as to how to circumnavigate security procedures.
To date I would consider the process remarkably successful as we rapidly approach the point where we’ve returned over half a million dollars to player!
It’s also worth point out that within the next two weeks we will also be launching a similar service for affiliates – POGGWebmasters.com. This service won’t fall under our UKGC ADR remit, but will provide affiliates with a dedicate complaints service run by the same team.