ThePogg approved as ADR for the UKGC

maxd

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Just heard from ThePogg that he's been approved as an official ADR at the UKGC. I'm told there will be an official press release very soon.

Personally I think this is a big step forward for the e-gaming community, especially for players and the player-facing sites like ThePogg. What it means is that the UKGC has not stitched-up the ADR club and that sites that deal more with player issues than pretty much anyone else -- and I dare-say that would include Casinomeister -- are being welcomed to participate in the UKGC process.

This is great news! Bravo to ThePogg on doing the hard work it took to get here and to the UKGC for their even-handedness in seeing that this is a good thing for all.
 
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Casinomeister

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That's great news! He's been working hard at this, and it's good to see something like this pan out. :thumbsup:

At Casinomeister, our policy is still the same as stated here: ADR why we have opted out...for now. But things may change - only the future knows...
 

ThePOGG

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I want to say a quick 'thanks' to both Bryan and Max. This has been a very long process. I'm absolutely thrilled with the outcome, but they both at times have had to listen to me drone on about our application far beyond the point where there was anything useful left to say.

Today's going to be a really busy day, but if anyone has any questions regarding the application process or working's of the ADR system I'd be happy to do my best to answer them.

TP
 
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Kunimine

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Congratulations!

I want to say a quick 'thanks' to both Bryan and Max. This has been a very long process. I'm absolutely thrilled with the outcome, but they both at times have had to listen to me drone on about our application far beyond the point where there was anything useful left to say.

Today's going to be a really busy day, but if anyone has any questions regarding the application process of working's of the ADR system I'd be happy to do my best to answer them.

TP

Congratulations ThePogg! Remember you told me you were in the middle of the process! Very happy to see that you finally got it! Hope to see you at the meistermeeting! :notworthy
 

ThePOGG

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Thanks guys - the support is very much appreciated.

I will be in contact with you both over the weekend regarding LAC ;)

TP
 

hhhelllo

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the ADRs are typically compensated by the casino, meaning they are paid by contract, subscription or per dispute to provide ADR services. In other words an ADR is paid by Casino X to arbitrate for Casino X.

Isn't that a total conflict of interest????
 

maxd

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Isn't that a total conflict of interest????

That's part of what makes this new development so promising: allowing player-facing sites into the ADR process means that for the first time the player can choose an ADR that is not being paid by the casino they have a dispute with. Player-facing sites -- like ThePogg, Casinomeister, AskGamblers, etc -- are typically self-supporting and (presumably) won't be taking payments from Casino X to rule on disputes for Casino X.

Of course there is still the issue that many player-facing sites are funded by their affiliate relationship with the casinos. Whether one is comfortable having their player-facing site of choice -- let's call them XYZ -- rule on their case will have to depend on the trust the player has in XYZ. Some have said they find this a hurdle of trust too big to overcome, exactly because of the affiliate relationship. C'est la vie: there are other ADRs available and the player should chose one they are comfortable with.

On the other hand I respectfully suggest that some of the XYZ sites have extensive histories and track records that should prove to any reasonable observer that their decision making process is not compromised by their affiliate connections. And since that history is typically out in the open for all to see -- meaning the published info on cases handled -- I think a very good case could be made for our player-facing site XYZ to be an ideal candidate as ADR for the well-informed player.
 
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fun4all

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That's part of what makes this new development so promising: allowing player-facing sites into the ADR process means that for the first time the player can choose an ADR that is not being paid by the casino they have a dispute with.

I am not so sure this is the case? I am trying to start an ADR with an officially recognised ADR by the UKGC. It would be against a UKGC licenced casino. From what I gather, I don't get to pick the ADR, the casino does so in essence it is completely unfair?
 

maxd

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My understanding is that if the casino does not want to discuss the case with anyone they direct the player to their ADR. The player does have to go through the process with the designated ADR _but_ if the outcome is not satisfactory to the player they may nominate another ADR to get involved assuming that other ADR is willing. I'd have to double-check all that to be certain.
 

fun4all

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if the outcome is not satisfactory to the player they may nominate another ADR to get involved. I'd have to double-check all that to be certain.

Thanks max for the reply and clarification, that's news to me if it is true and is good news.
 

ThePOGG

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I've discussed this before in another thread - you're absolutely right to view this as a conflict of interests. The reality however is that there's no ideal system that involves no exchange of money what-so-ever. Consumer complaints are a time intensive job, the key word being job. No-one will manage this type of process without incentive. That incentive has to come from either party, indirectly via the industry or through charitable donations. I feel it's fair to rule the last option out as unrealistic.

That being the case you're left with 3 potential solutions:

1) Government regulation - this involves the operator paying a license fee and the governmental department managing consumer issues. This is probably the best model available. Money does change hands but does so in an indirect fashion where the regulator is paid for an overall service and complaint management is part of that. That said, without naming names, I have encountered regulators during disputes that have express concern regarding their relationship with an operator when considering a complaint. This does create a situation where an operator who is unhappy with a regulator's rulings could shift their license, resulting in a financial loss for the regulator, though it should be acknowledged that changing license is far from a trivial matter.

2) The subscription model - this involves the operator paying a 3rd party to manage complaints for them. Money changes hands and in a direct fashion for the management of complaints. In this instance, if an operator is unhappy with the complaint management that the 3rd party provides it's a far less cumbersome process to switch to an alternative provider.

3) The affiliate model - this involves a party with a advertising relationship with *some* operators mediating disputes, though admittedly it's far more likely that operators the affiliate works with will be keen to have them as an ADR service. Money changes hands indirectly in the form of affiliate fees. If the operator is unhappy with the result of the complaint there options are limited. While technically the operator could choose to terminate the affiliate's account under negative publicity terms, in doing so they cut of future revenue that they would earn from referred traffic. Where the affiliate chooses to terminate their relationship with the operator due to the complaint there are 2 potential avenues of revenue loss - i) immediate loss from current and future referrals and ii) loss of earnings from historically referred traffic. The first issue can be easily mitigated by simply moving an alternative program into the same positions. The second issue is only really a problem where the operator carries a Minimum Activity Quota allowing them to close the affiliate's accounts or reduce revenue share levels to an unsustainable level if they do not receive continuous promotion. Without a Minimum Activity Quota there's nothing within the affiliate terms and conditions that can justify the reduction of earnings from historical traffic.

None of the programs at the top of our listings current carry a Minimum Activity Quota. This hasn't been an intentional decision, in fact I wasn't aware of this until a few months ago, but there's a fairly strong correlation between the programs that are most interested in giving players a fair shake and those that offer good affiliate terms and conditions. I can also say that where we have had programs assert that they're unhappy with their reviews and threaten to close our account, in every instance when we've responded that 'the review simply reflects the decisions your operation's made, if you want to address those issue the review will change' and that 'closure of affiliate account where we accurately reflect your actions would be considered acting in bad faith resulting in no possibility of a change in status at any future date', has always resulted in the operator backing down. It should be noted that these instances have occurred due to review content rather than as a result of any specific complaint.

The simple facts are that there is no system available that eliminate fund transfers between parties completely. That's the same with almost all consumer protection groups. Money has to come from somewhere to fund the operation. Accepting that reality choices have to be made between what is realistically achievable. The UKGC has reviewed their option and chosen the road that they feel is most appropriate. This has included a fairly extended vetting process.

It should also be noted that not all complaints can/will be managed by ADR services. In the case of license related complaints - my current understand is this specifically means Problem Gambling related issues - these are to be referred on to the regulator. I also suspect complaints related to the fairness of terms or consumer rights are likely to be referred on to other bodies. I'm attending a round table discussion panel towards the end of this month and these issues are on the agenda so would expect to have further information then.

TP
 

ThePOGG

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My understanding is that if the casino does not want to discuss the case with anyone they direct the player to their ADR. The player does have to go through the process with the designated ADR _but_ if the outcome is not satisfactory to the player they may nominate another ADR to get involved assuming that other ADR is willing. I'd have to double-check all that to be certain.

I don't think that is the case. Operators are welcome to work with an alternative ADR if they receive a request and want to engage. That's as far as this goes. There is no stipulation that operators have to work with any ADR other than the one they list in their terms and conditions. Most ADR services are also allowed to decline complaints on the basis that they've already been reviewed by another ADR service.

Essentially unless the operator provides multiple ADRs in their terms and conditions the player has no choice in the matter, though if a non-listed ADR approaches the operator, the operator may choose to work with them.

TP
 

fun4all

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I don't think that is the case. Operators are welcome to work with an alternative ADR if they receive a request and want to engage. That's as far as this goes. There is no stipulation that operators have to work with any ADR other than the one they list in their terms and conditions. Most ADR services are also allowed to decline complaints on the basis that they've already been reviewed by another ADR service.

Essentially unless the operator provides multiple ADRs in their terms and conditions the player has no choice in the matter, though if a non-listed ADR approaches the operator, the operator may choose to work with them.

Yeah so this ADR thing sucks. It is completely biased towards the Casino's. Even if they provide a list to choose from, it is still a list of their choosing.

A much fairer way would be any UKGC approved ADR could be chosen by the player and the casino would have to engage.

Total crap from the UKGC as per usual.
 

ThePOGG

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To be fair from what I've seen of the UKGC they seem to be working very hard to put together the best possible system that can be achieved.

In the last few months I've taken 3 separate issues to them. Each of these issues has received time and attention and ultimately action has been taken to rectify the situation. They certainly haven't shown any reluctance to take on feedback.

Further to this there are a limited number of ADR services for the sector. You can find a complete list here -
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(yet to be updated with our entry)

One of the tasks I've completed in the last few months was an overhall of the regulatory information within our reviews. Part of that was detailing the ADR services used by the UKGC licensed operators. To date the only ADRs from that list that I'm aware of actually being used by operators are IBAS, Isle of Man and eCOGRA. The other entities listed are either working with the offline market or appear to simply want the option available to them without actively pursuing it.

There is another option that has been built into the ADR requirements that we have used with some limited success. While a non-listed ADR cannot force an operator to discuss a complaint with them, the player is free to request that an ADR engage with 3rd party representation*. To give an example, if a player brought a complaint to ThePOGG against an operator that did not list us as their ADR and the operator refused to discuss the issue, the player could then contact the recognised ADR service and request that the ADR communicate with ThePOGG as the player's 3rd party representative. It should be noted that ADRs are allowed to withhold certain information/evidence if there's a risk of educating parties engaged in illegal activities, but other than that all aspects of the complaint should be open to discussion. It's entirely your own opinion whether you feel this achieves anything worthwhile or not, but does provide an extra element of trust if you felt one ADR was more trustworthy than another.

TP

* The ADR would have to agree to represent you in this manner.
 

Richas

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Yeah so this ADR thing sucks. It is completely biased towards the Casino's. Even if they provide a list to choose from, it is still a list of their choosing.

A much fairer way would be any UKGC approved ADR could be chosen by the player and the casino would have to engage.

Total crap from the UKGC as per usual.

I think this is unfair. The ADRs are reviewed as independent and capable by the UKGC. A minimum quality threshold is set by the regulator.

In many ways it makes sense for a site to deal with one ADR - the ADR builds up knowledge and experience of the firms policies and procedures and build working relationships with key personnell, potentially influencing them to improve policy and procedures but certainly reducing the overhead for each case (easier to deal with multiple cases at once, easier communication due to relationship, prior knowledge from earlier cases).

As for the ideal being the reguator dealing with it - the experience of Gibraltar and Malta is that this does not work well, the regulators are less independent of the operators than a proper ADR.
 

dunover

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Yeah so this ADR thing sucks. It is completely biased towards the Casino's. Even if they provide a list to choose from, it is still a list of their choosing.

A much fairer way would be any UKGC approved ADR could be chosen by the player and the casino would have to engage.

Total crap from the UKGC as per usual.

I tend to agree although I wouldn't go as far as saying they are totally biased towards the casinos. It's an elastoplast solution to a great big bleeding wound. We are quite aware on this forum, but if you didn't have the knowledge we have, would you have much faith or trust when you learn your ADR is (indirectly) paid by casinos and funds his/her gambling with their commissions?

Whilst I trust POGG implicitly, I agree with his point that this is hopefully will be a stop-gap until government funds a small independent arbitrator out of the millions they cream in taxes. These arbitrators would do a decent job if they had half the knowledge of some members on here. Unfortunately, like the UKGC, when this eventually comes about it will initially be filled with stuffed suits between pensions from the Police/Local government etc. whose knowledge of gambling is limited to stuffing 2p's in the pushers with their grandchildren each summer.

So the ADR favours you in a dispute? There is no legal obligation for the casino to follow the ADR's decision as far as I know. They could simply stick to their guns and give the player the middle finger anyway. Then you'd have to go to court, and they know this is where 99% of people would give up.

As with other large industries we need a fully independent knowledgeable arbitration service with no connection to casinos. And this service would need to be enshrined in statute like the ASA and FSA or Ombudsman whereby their decision is FINAL and legally binding, so the process ends there. No more stress on the player.

I know POGG has had to jump through hoops to get this ADR status, but with all respect I hope this is a temporary arrangement until the government or UKGC finally do the sensible and commercially accepted thing and establish a legal body as I've outlined above.

It WILL happen eventually, and as you all know governments can usually be relied upon to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.
 

fun4all

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I think this is unfair. The ADRs are reviewed as independent and capable by the UKGC. A minimum quality threshold is set by the regulator.

Haha. "Independent". I am afraid when organisation A gives a lot of money to organisation B then organisation B can NEVER be "independent" when judging organisation A. That is the bottom line and any judge (in a truly independent court) will agree.

Let us look at IBAS, who many casinos list as their sole ADR and punters are routinely sent to for so called fair and independent judgements.

They have the word "independent" in their name and their website claims "Independent third party"

This is a bit of a lie, for a start they are funded by the bookmakers (via SIS for one)
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When they are receiving their money from bookmakers, they cannot be expected to judge fairly against bookmakers. That is an absolute fact. They are also financially linked to the bookmakers so calling themselves "Independent" is a misrepresentation.

Here we see an example of them being biased.
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Many casinos list IBAS as their sole independent ADR. As we can see they are not independent in the slightest, they have a substantial financial bias yet the customer cannot choose a non biased ADR. Disgraceful. Not only that if the unwise customer allows this lot to take his case up the casino can scream AN INDEPENDENT AUTHORISED ADR FOUND IN OUR FAVOUR. What a crock of ****

As for the ideal being the reguator dealing with it - the experience of Gibraltar and Malta is that this does not work well, the regulators are less independent of the operators than a proper ADR.

The UKGC has proven themselves time and time again to not care a jot about customers when it would financially affect their precious sites. I mean this is a "regulator" who licenced 666Bet. That is a joke. Aren't they supposed to stop sites operating in illegal markets as well? Amaya appear to have free reign to operate in many illegal markets via PokerStars. This has gone on for years now under UKGC watch.
 

ThePOGG

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To one degree or another I would agree with the statements questioning government regulation so far. Government regulation hasn't always lived up to what it should be. That said, I work pretty closely with several of the regulator authorities both in and outside Europe including the MGA. Specifically with regard to the MGA my honest assessment would be that a LOT has changed there over the last 12 months. They've really put a lot of time and work in on the player complaint management side of things and have been very receptive to feedback. My personal opinion is that this group is quickly becoming a significant asset in ensuring player rights.

When it comes to the UKGC I think we're dealing with a different animal to previous government regulation within this market. In general the jurisdictions that have chosen to offer licenses prior to this have been geographically and politically small. I don't mean to diminish their input - some of these bodies have helped players - but realistically the online gambling market has be a significant proportion of both the tax revenue and jobs markets for these states. For this reason significant political pressure could be brought to bear on the bodies responsible for regulation.

The UKGC is somewhat different in this respect. While I've no doubt the UK government wouldn't be getting involved in the regulation of this market if there wasn't decent tax revenue to be made, the tax revenue generated by this market is likely a far smaller proportion of the overall tax revenue generated by the country than previous regulatory jurisdictions. Alongside this, most operators have their base of operations outside of the UK and account for a far smaller proportion of the job market.

Alongside this, previously where an operator was dissatisfied with a regulator they could simply switch to another regulator. While this was never the simplest of tasks, it was achievable and in general didn't impact greatly on the markets the operator could accept. Attaining a UKGC license is a significant undertaking as I'm sure many operators could attest to and any operator who goes to the effort of gaining a UKGC license likely sees the UK market as a significant asset. Dropping the UKGC license means dropping the UK market. That's not a decision that any operator is going to take lightly.

For the above reasons I'd suggest that the UKGC is something new in the market. The pressures that have existed for regulators historically shouldn't be as significant a factor in their operation.

I'd also suggest that it's too soon to judge the strengths and weaknesses of the ADR system. I'll admit to having my doubts to begin with - and it certainly wouldn't be out of line to suggest that my opinion could have been impacted by our successful accreditation - but I'm actually gaining rather than losing confidence in this system. As I mentioned previously the regulator will be dealing directly with certain types of issue. I'll have more of a picture towards the end of the month, but I'm getting the impression that ADR services will be used for the low level day to day complaints. I actually think that's potentially a good thing. Determining whether or not a player adhered to bonus rules, my payment's not come through and that type of thing. Larger scale issues, the implementation of gambling protection policies, decisions on the fairness of terms or software integrity issues I think will ultimately be managed by the UKGC themselves.

What I'm saying is that this isn't a set in stone set of edicts coming from on high. It is currently a fluid system that is being changed and adjusted as information becomes available. What form it will ultimately take I can't say for sure, but I would suggest retaining an open mind to see what the future holds.

TP
 

fun4all

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I'd also suggest that it's too soon to judge the strengths and weaknesses of the ADR system. I'll admit to having my doubts to begin with

I wish to proceed with an ADR against a UKGC casino. I have looked at available ADR's and did find one who's judgement I would be willing to accept as fair regardless of the outcome.

However I cant use this one, the casino has decided not to list them, instead they list one (IBAS) which as I have already shown I have legitimate doubts against both their impartiality and fairness.

What am I supposed to think of this ADR service? Looks pretty biased to me.

(Thanks for the post Pogg)
 

ThePOGG

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What am I supposed to think of this ADR service? Looks pretty biased to me.

I can give you an opinion on this issue, but it's just as open to accusations of bias as anything else that can be said.

My personal opinion would be that you have a point. I think it would be a far better system if the player were allowed to choose from the accredited ADR providers. There are problems with this process though. While ThePOGG provides ADR services to operators for free, no other currently accredited body does. The operator has to pay the fee for this, that's essentially stipulated by European law. Forcing the operator to work with an ADR the player chooses forces the operator into a financial transaction that they have no choice in.

Alongside this, I'm confident that many of the participants here would opt to use ThePOGG, or more likely CM if they decided to go for accreditation, over other ADRs. This comes about due to our other activities and interactions with the community. It also is clear incentive, and hence bias on my part, in any argument I could present for players choosing the ADR service.

And it has to be recognised that just like players, not all operators view all ADRs as unbias. Many operators that hold negative status with ThePOGG feel that they cannot possibly get a fair hearing from us. The SkillOnNet group would be a prime example of this. I'd obviously contest this, but I do accept the reason they feel this way.

I'd also say that no organization no matter how good get's everything right. That includes our complaint service. When dealing with complaints a few spring to mind that in retrospect I actually believe the wrong conclusion was reached. Both against players and operators. I understand your opinion on IBAS but I've assisted players taking complaints through them before and been impressed with their service. That doesn't mean that I have a comprehensive picture of their operation or that they never get it wrong, it's simply an anecdotal example.

TP
 

Richas

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When they are receiving their money from bookmakers, they cannot be expected to judge fairly against bookmakers. That is an absolute fact. They are also financially linked to the bookmakers so calling themselves "Independent" is a misrepresentation.

...

The UKGC has proven themselves time and time again to not care a jot about customers when it would financially affect their precious sites. I mean this is a "regulator" who licenced 666Bet. That is a joke. Aren't they supposed to stop sites operating in illegal markets as well? Amaya appear to have free reign to operate in many illegal markets via PokerStars. This has gone on for years now under UKGC watch.

Having the firms pay for the complaint pocess is infinitely better than having punters pay for it or accept risk of costs in progressing a complaint. The cost of the complaint also means tht for small amounts the sites are incentivised to settle rather than go to the ADR - even if they are right. The bias in terms of payment is if anything against the site not the punter.

As for the UKGC - you need to pick a better example. 666Bet was licenced by Alderney - they got a transitional licence based solely on that Alderney licence that was valid only whilst their UK application was checked. When their application was checked the UKGC suspended their interim licence. There was no UKGC decision to licence 666Bet - as part of the process the UK government allocated transitional licences to all operators with a white list licence whilst their UK application was processed - this was for all white list sites and for reasons of business continuity whist the UKGC processed some 130+ new licencees.
 

fun4all

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Having the firms pay for the complaint pocess is infinitely better than having punters pay for it

I am not talking about only the complaint process. The sites give these "independent" organisatons plenty of money aside from that, and that is the inherent bias. Only a fool (or somebody who is also biased) would argue otherwise.

There was no UKGC decision to licence 666Bet

There was

as part of the process the UK government allocated transitional licences to all operators with a white list licence

There, that is a UKGC decision to licence 666bet. Just because they licenced a lot of sites en mass without doing proper checks does not mean they didn't decide to give them a licence. They did give them a licence, to be nice to the businesses, and screw the punters who cares about the consequences!

If you want to continue to argue that money changing hands doesn't influence decisions or that the UKGC actually ensure sites play fair then that's fine but can we make another thread, I don't wish to spiral Pogg's thread further off topic.
 

Richas

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There, that is a UKGC decision to licence 666bet. Just because they licenced a lot of sites en mass without doing proper checks does not mean they didn't decide to give them a licence. They did give them a licence, to be nice to the businesses, and screw the punters who cares about the consequences!

If you want to continue to argue that money changing hands doesn't influence decisions or that the UKGC actually ensure sites play fair then that's fine but can we make another thread, I don't wish to spiral Pogg's thread further off topic.

No, there was a decision not to prevent any white listed sites already operating in the UK from continuing their business whilst their application was processed. That is not the same as passing a licensing process. It was clear that the permission was entirely contingent on the white list reglator's licence and rules.

The UKGC refused 666Bet, suspending their continuation licence as they were NOT going to be licenced by the UK. Then the scam collapsed. Now some lost money but remember Alderney was the responsible regulator and if the UKGC had not had tougher standards the scam could have continued sucking in more victims and leading to bigger losses.

The UKGC did the riht thing with 666 except that their press releases and PR was terrible - they failed to explain what the process was (which they could) or the reasons for refusal (which they likely could not without jeopardising potential prosecutions).
 
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