What is gambling-related harm?
Many people enjoy gambling as a form of entertainment and do so without experiencing harm. But if someone’s gambling becomes an uncontrollable habit or an addiction, then it can cause significant harm to the individual and those around them, negatively impacting mental and physical health, relationships, and finances.
Types of complaint we see
We have been contacted by people when gambling-related harm has impacted them and their financial situation, and they think a financial business could have done more to help or step in. Sometimes, they feel the financial business did something wrong and they've lost out as a result.
People have come to us saying:
- I was given a loan or credit when it should have been obvious to the financial business that this was unaffordable due to my gambling habit. They acted irresponsibly in lending to me and I’m now struggling to repay the debt.
- I told the financial business about problems I was facing with my spending on gambling, but they didn’t offer enough, or any, support. I think they should have done more to help.
- I asked the bank to place a block on my account – designed to prevent me making payments to merchants who have been categorised as offering services related to gambling. But the block didn’t work properly, and it didn’t stop me being able to pay certain merchants who were not correctly categorised.
Handling a complaint like this
As with any complaint, we’ll expect you to work with your customer to get to the bottom of what happened, investigate fairly whether anything went wrong, and – where appropriate – take steps to put things right.
If you don’t reply within the time limits for responding to a complaint, or the customer disagrees with your response, they can bring their complaint to us. We’ll check it’s something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate.
Read more about resolving complaints.
What we look at
We’ll look at all the circumstances, including evidence provided by you and by your customer.
We’ll think about whether you did everything you were required to do, and if not, whether your customer lost out as a result.
In doing so we’ll consider relevant law and regulation, regulators’ rules, guidance and standards, codes of practice, and what we consider to be good industry practice at the time. We’ll then decide overall what a fair and reasonable outcome to your complaint is.
The Financial Conduct Authority expects financial businesses to take particular care to ensure vulnerable customers are treated fairly. We’ll consider whether you were aware, or ought to have been aware, that your customer was vulnerable, and what support you offered or put in place.
Putting things right
If we find you've treated your customer unfairly, or have made a mistake, we'll ask you to put things right.
The exact details of how we’ll ask you to put things right will depend on the nature of the complaint, and how the customer lost out. We might ask you to put things right by making changes to a product or account, paying compensation for financial loss, or making changes to a credit file. Or we could ask you to do things differently for this customer in the future.
We may also ask you to compensate them for any distress and inconvenience they experienced as a result of the problem or mistake.
Read more about our approach to compensation.
A consumer complains her bank shouldn’t have lent to her, as doing so fed her gambling addiction and left her in debt
Gambling Credit and borrowing money
Consumer asked for our help as they had several debts with lenders due to heavy gambling
Gambling Credit and borrowing money
Consumer complains their bank acted irresponsibly after they made a high volume of gambling transactions
Gambling Distress and inconvenience Credit and borrowing money Up to £750
Consumer asked for our help as they ran up credit card debt from gambling during a period of ill health
Credit and borrowing money Gambling
If you want to talk informally about a complaint you’ve received, you can speak to our technical desk. They can give general information on how the Financial Ombudsman Service might look at a particular complaint. They also offer guidance on our rules and how we work.
Find out how to contact our technical desk.
Useful resources for businesses
Find out more information about the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) guidance on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers.
Information for consumers
If you’re a consumer looking for information on how we can help you with a complaint, you can read more about this in our dedicated information about our approach to complaints involving gambling-related harm.
To make a complaint to a financial business or to us, read more about how to complain.