What Is IBAS?
If you’ve spent more than just a fleeting few moments looking on bookmaker’s websites then you’ll no doubt have seen a reference or two to ‘IBAS’. It’s entirely possible, however, that you have no idea what IBAS stands for, how it came about nor how you can use it if and when you need to. The Independent Betting Adjudication Service is just as crucial a part of the world of betting as the bookmakers themselves, yet few know why it exists, let alone the sort of reason you might want to turn to them for help.
On this page we’ll look to dissect exactly what service IBAS offers, including what they can and can’t do for you in the event that you end up having a disagreement with a bookie over a bet that you’ve placed that they won’t pay out on. The funny thing about a service like the one offered by IBAS is that you naturally hope that you’ll never need to use it, but if and when you do it’s important not to have false expectations about what they’ll be able to do for you and to ensure that you don’t have the feeling that they’re on anyone’s ‘side’.
For more general advice on how to complain to a bookmaker or casino read our dedicated guide.
The History and Origins Of IBAS
It might surprise some of you to learn that the Independent Betting Adjudication Service was actually launched by a company perhaps better known for producing a newspaper. Nevertheless, Trinity Mirror, who published Sporting Life at the time, set it up in 1998 with the moniker of the ‘Independent Betting Arbitration Service’. If you’re wondering why then don’t forget that the Gambling Act that currently offers protection to bettors was still seven years away from becoming law. As a result, there was no protection given to either the bettors not the bookmakers at the time. Despite off-course bookies being legalised in 1960, a bet was still no more binding than a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ nearly forty years later.
The reason that the Trinity Mirror Group had decided to take on the job of informally settling disputes is because they’d already been doing it for several years. There was a column in their Sporting Life newspaper called ‘The Green Seal Service’, which had been addressing the concerns of punters by coming up with agreements with most of the major bookmakers. The service grew in popularity and it was acknowledged by the mid-1990s that something more formal needed to be arranged.
In 1998 along came the new standalone service, the Independent Betting Arbitration Service. If there had been any doubt about whether or not it was needed, there soon wasn’t. Here’s how many requisitions were made to the early form of IBAS for adjudication:
- 1998 - 106
- 1999 - 949
- 2000 - 1147
- 2001 - 1266
- 2002 - 1654
- 2003 - 1444
- 2004 - 2086
- 2005 - 2764
- 2006 - 2722
- 2007 - 2607
- 2008 - 2982
- 2009 - 2920
- 2010 - 3026
- 2011 - 3087
- 2012 - 4170
- 2013 - 4259
- 2014 - 4540
- 2015 - 4998
- 2016 - 7159
- 2017 - Due Soon
As you can see, the figures from the IBAS website show that use of the service grew almost year-on-year. The amount of money paid out to consumers grew from a little over two thousand pounds in 1998 to more than £650,000 on by 2016. In total IBAS have awarded well over £5 million back to customers over their existence so far.
What Does IBAS Do?
Now that we know how long the company has been in existence for and how it has grown since 1998, it’s worth taking a closer look at what exactly IBAS does. The important thing here is to give it its proper name rather than just concentrating on the acronym. After all, you’ll learn plenty from the title of the ‘Independent Betting Adjudication Service’. There’s also a decent hint about the company’s raison d’être from the original title, in which the word ‘adjudication’ was originally ‘arbitration’.
In short, the company adjudicates disputes between punters and licensed gambling operators in the event that there’s a disagreement over a bet that has been placed or a game played. It is what is known as a ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution Service’ and has been part of the remit of the Gambling Commission since October 2015.
The service also does more than just mediate disputes, it also gives advice to both consumers and operators with general advice on how to avoid and resolve dispiutes without escalation. You must at least attempt to get a resolution of your dispute directly with the operator before you can use IBAS and browsing their advice pages is a good place to start.
How Does The IBAS Complaints Procedure Work?
Every time someone raises a dispute with IBAS, a panel of independent experts is formed from the field of betting and sports journalism. The aim of the panel is to reach a fair-minded decision that is based on the laws and legal precedents. The rules that are in place and that govern the transaction are taken into account where possible. If no rules or laws exist then common sense principles will come into play to help the panel reach a sensible verdict.
The good thing about the Independent Betting Adjudication Service is that it is free of charge and that gambling operators with a Gambling Commission licence are bound by its decisions. IBAS can rule on cases that are worth up to £10,000, though consumers can look to the courts if the dispute is worth more than that or if they disagree with the conclusion reached by IBAS.
The reason that the service is free and that companies are bound by their decision are one and the same. Licensed gambling operators pay a registration fee a year in advance, also signing terms and conditions that say that they will be bound by the service’s decisions. Any IBAS adjudicators also have to declare any conflict of interest, keeping things as fair and straight as possible.
It is important to note that not all operators are registered with IBAS, although pretty much every major brand, and all brands we list on this site, are registered. If the site you wish to complain about is not registered with IBAS you may need to go straight to the Gambling Commission or ASA, if relevant, or to court. You can search the registered operators directory on the IBAS site.
Sectors Of The Gambling Industry IBAS Deals With
As you will no doubt appreciate, the gambling industry is huge and wide-ranging. Even so, IBAS is involved with most sectors of the gambling world, with the following being a non-exhaustive list of the sections of the gambling industry that the company deals with:
- Bingo clubs
- Greyhound racing
- Greyhound pool betting at the stadium
- Mobile gambling
- Betting exchanges
- Betting shops
- Online gambling of both UK and offshore companies
- Totalisator betting
- Gaming machines
How Complain To IBAS
As mentioned, that list is not exhaustive but it gives you a clear idea of the sort of thing you might be doing when the need to use the service raises its head. Should that be the case then there are a few things that you’ll need to bare in mind before jumping on their website and looking for the ‘Contact’ button or phone number.
IBAS will only get involved in a dispute if every attempt has been made by the customer and the gambling company to resolve things themselves. In other words, if you think that a bookmaker or other gambling company has not behaved fairly towards you after you’ve placed a bet, the first thing that you’ll need to do is get in touch with the company themselves. If you head to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service then the first thing that they’ll ask you is what attempts you’ve made to deal with the situation directly with the party you feel has wronged you.
If you’ve dealt with the company that you have the disagreement with directly and you’ve failed to reach an agreement that all parties are happy with and all concerned are willing to agree to the IBAS terms and conditions then that’s the point at which they’ll look to deal with you claim.
If it’s felt that the dispute has merit then IBAS will request written statements from all parties involved. The first thing that IBAS will do is check that the gambling company has obeyed its own rules and regulations. It’s only if no rule actually exists that covers the dispute that IBAS will look to create its own rule based on what will have happened previously in the industry in a similar situation.
Following The Procedures
The key thing about the IBAS service from the point of view of the bettor is that things are made as simple as possible when you do indeed need to use the service. They minimise red tape and allow you to get in touch with them either via an inline system or over the phone. Those of you that have a reason to get in touch with them will want to think through how you’ve dealt with the company that you have the problem with initially. A rough rule of thumb is that it works as follows:
Speak to the manager - speak to the duty manager - contact the area manager where appropriate - contact IBAS
If your dispute is with an online operator then you’ll want to add in the possibility of speaking to the customer service team early on with that. Most companies have good PR departments and customer service personnel who would far rather any dispute was settled without needing to turn to IBAS, simply because it can be a time consuming process for them.
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:
- Firstly you will contact them and include all of the details of your dispute in a written statement
- Next, IBAS will get in touch with the gambling operator that you had the problem with and ask them for a written submission
- Both statements and any and all supporting evidence will be forwarded to the independent panel that has been convened to look into the scenario at hand
- If members of the panel have any further questions then the two parties involved will be contacted
- At that point, the independent panel will consider the situation and make a decision, with both parties involved being informed of the decision simultaneously
- If either party disagrees with the conclusion reached by the panel then they can ask for it to be reviewed
It’s a process that is as clear and as transparent as possible, aimed at reducing either party involved in a dispute feeling as though they were hard done to.
Appealing a Ruling Or Complaining About IBAS
As with all adjudication services you may not agree with the final decision they reach. If this is the case then you can appeal a ruling by applying to IBAS for a review. If you still feel ou have been treated unfairly or unreasonably you can sumbit a formal complaint in writing.
Should you still be unable to reach a resolution to your satisfaction with IBAS and you think they have incorrectly handled the process you can escalate your complain further to the Gambling Commission or to the British Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
What Is Not Covered By IBAS
The rule of thumb in terms of what is covered by the Independent Betting Adjudication System is easy enough to remember: if it was a bet on anything that can be considered to be a gambling transaction with a licensed company then they’ve got you sorted, looking to make sure that the entire thing has been handled correctly from the start. Yet there are a whole host of things that you might not realise won’t be covered by IBAS, so here’s a look a them:
- Anything to do with customer service, which includes how a website works or the standard of facilitates in a physical location
- Complaints regarding accounts that have been closed or restricted. Bookies are allowed to refuse to take a bet, so there’s nothing that IBAS can do to reinstate a closed account. The only exception to this is if your bets were placed before your account was closed and weren’t processed
- Anything to do with allegations of cheating, fixing or games being unfair. That’s something you’ll want to speak to the Gambling Commission about
- Another Gambling Commission thing is anything to so with social responsibility. That is to say, if you think an advert is aimed at someone under the age of eighteen or that someone of that age has been allowed to place a bet, speak to the GC
Simply remember that disputes are handled by IBAS, complaints about the way that a gambling company operates in a manner that’s nothing to do with whether or not you’ve been paid out on a bet that you’ve placed is the responsibility of the Gambling Commission.