Discretionary Commission Arrangements - Compaints and refunds

Online Gambing and why You Can't Complain

When it comes to navigating the complexities of online gambling, consumers often find themselves in a challenging position, particularly in the context of disputes. One of the pivotal aspects that exacerbate this challenge is the inability to lodge a complaint against online gambling companies through the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). This limitation is not arbitrary but is rooted in the specific regulatory framework and the nature of the services offered by these companies. Understanding why this is the case requires a look into the roles of the FOS, the regulatory environment of online gambling, and the avenues available for dispute resolution.

The Role of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)

The Financial Ombudsman Service is a UK-based organization established to resolve disputes between consumers and businesses providing financial services. Its primary function is to offer an impartial mediation service, ensuring that consumers have a means to seek redress without resorting to legal action. However, the FOS's jurisdiction is confined to disputes involving regulated financial activities as defined by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or similar regulatory bodies in other jurisdictions.

Regulatory Framework of Online Gambling

Online gambling companies are typically regulated by gambling commissions or authorities, such as the UK Gambling Commission, rather than financial regulatory bodies like the FCA. These regulatory entities are tasked with overseeing gambling activities to ensure fairness, prevent fraud, and protect vulnerable individuals. However, because online gambling does not fall under the category of "financial services" in a traditional sense, disputes related to these activities are not within the remit of the FOS.

Why Consumers Cannot Make an FOS Complaint Against Online Gambling Companies

  1. Regulatory Jurisdiction: Since online gambling companies are regulated by gambling authorities and not by financial regulatory bodies, any disputes arising from their services fall outside the FOS's mandate. This jurisdictional boundary is a primary reason why consumers cannot take their complaints against online gambling firms to the FOS.

  2. Nature of Services: Online gambling involves betting and gaming services, which are fundamentally different from financial services like banking, insurance, or investment advice. The nature of the dispute in gambling often revolves around the outcomes of bets or games, which are governed by chance and specific gambling regulations, rather than financial mismanagement or misconduct.

  3. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Schemes: The gambling industry has its own set of ADR providers approved by gambling regulatory authorities. These entities are specialized in handling disputes between consumers and gambling companies, ensuring that there is a sector-specific mechanism for redress. Consumers are encouraged to use these channels for resolving their grievances.


The exclusion of online gambling disputes from the FOS's purview is a reflection of the distinct regulatory landscapes governing financial services and gambling activities. While this may seem like a gap in consumer protection, it is important to recognize that alternative avenues for dispute resolution exist within the gambling sector. These ADR mechanisms are tailored to address the unique challenges and nature of gambling disputes, offering a more appropriate forum for resolution. Nonetheless, consumers should always exercise caution and conduct thorough research before engaging with online gambling platforms, ensuring they understand the terms of service and the dispute resolution processes available.

Who are the biggest online Gambling Companies

1. Flutter Entertainment

Ownership: Publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: FLTR). Notable Brands: Paddy Power, Betfair, FanDuel, and PokerStars. About: Flutter Entertainment is one of the world's largest online betting and gaming operators, formed through the merger of Paddy Power and Betfair, and later acquiring The Stars Group, which included PokerStars.

2. Entain plc

Ownership: Publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: ENT). Notable Brands: Ladbrokes, Coral, Bwin, PartyPoker. About: Entain plc, formerly known as GVC Holdings, is a multinational sports betting and gaming group. The company has grown through a series of high-profile acquisitions, including the purchase of Ladbrokes Coral Group in 2018.

3. Bet365

Ownership: Privately owned by the Coates family. Notable Brands: Bet365. About: Bet365 is one of the world's leading online gambling companies offering sports betting, casino, poker, and games. It is renowned for being family-run, with Denise Coates, a co-founder, serving as the CEO.

4. Kindred Group

Ownership: Publicly traded on the Stockholm Stock Exchange (STO: KIND-SDB). Notable Brands: Unibet, 32Red, Maria Casino. About: The Kindred Group is a diversified online gambling operator, which includes 9 brands. The company operates across Europe, Australia, and the United States.

5. 888 Holdings

Ownership: Publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: 888). Notable Brands: 888Casino, 888Poker, 888Sport. About: 888 Holdings operates a multi-brand online gaming operation including casino, poker, bingo, and sports betting. It has a strong presence in regulated markets worldwide.

6. William Hill

Ownership: Acquired by Caesars Entertainment in April 2021. Notable Brands: William Hill. About: William Hill is one of the oldest and most recognized names in gambling, originally established in 1934. Following its acquisition, it is now part of Caesars Entertainment, one of the largest gaming companies in the U.S.

7. DraftKings

Ownership: Publicly traded on the NASDAQ (NASDAQ: DKNG). Notable Brands: DraftKings. About: DraftKings is an American company known for its sports betting and daily fantasy sports. It has expanded rapidly in the U.S. following the legalization of sports betting in several states.

These companies represent just a snapshot of the online gambling industry, which is characterized by its dynamic nature and competitive environment. The ownership and control of these companies are subject to change due to new investments, regulatory changes, and strategic business decisions. Always refer to the most current information for the latest developments in the industry.