Just to recap, ADR means “Alternate Dispute Resolution” and ODR means “Online Dispute Resolution”. Generally speaking “ADR” is the name given by the UKGC, the UK Gambling Commission, to ODRs they have approved to handle casino issues in the UK. By UK law such casinos are required to list at least one, some say “only one”, ADR service in their Terms.
One misunderstood reality of online life is that many governments, especially in Europe, are pressing online operators to make online dispute resolution available to their customers. This is being done primarily to keep such matters out of the courts in order to avoid further over-burdening their justice systems.
This is not a bad thing, because since the 1960s dispute arbitration has become an internationally recognized and respected profession. There are several fine organizations, especially in the UK, that train and support professional arbitrators so the rise of ADR/ODR services is a natural evolution where supply meets demand and the customer is better served because of it.
The primary red flag here is that very few ADR/ODR services have experience in the online gaming sector which is exactly the kind of expertise any player with a casino complaint wants their arbitrator to have.
Pretty much everything I’ve said about Website Complaints Services applies to ADRs and ODRs: shop around, know a little about the people you are entrusting your case to, and place your issue in their hands for them to do the best job for you that they are able to do.
That said there are a couple of things to know about ADRs and ODRs: in Europe it is now law for an online operator, whatever their business is, to ensure that a link to the ODR platform is available so that their customers have somewhere to turn to if they have a complaint. In the UK things are a little more specific: a UKGC-licensed casino must specifically name and link to at least one (possibly only one) UKGC-approved ADR in their Terms in a section detailing Complaint Resolution procedures.
Unfortunately, many online operators make the mistake of insisting that their hand-picked ADR/ODR is the only such service that a customer is allowed to use. This is completely false and misguided: no casino in the EU or the UK is forced by law or anything else to use and/or communicate with only one specific ADR/ODR! They can discuss a player case with any qualified 3rd party that they agree to work with. And, in general the customer is free to choose whatever ADR/ODR they like. In other words: if the customer has a preferred ADR the casino should be willing to discuss the player’s case with them. The reality however is that at this time some operators will not agree to discuss a player’s case with anyone but their chosen ADR and means that a potential deadlock situation can occur. The player wants ADR-X, but the casino refuses to discuss the case with anyone but ADR-Y: Bad news for the player!
In the rare case where a casino refuses to discuss a player’s case with anyone but their own approved ADR the player, unfortunately, has very little recourse. The easiest thing to do is capitulate and use the recommended ADR. Beware though: the ADR’s decision is usually final (as far as the casino is concerned) and the player’s only other option will be to take the case to the courts.
There is a final option available to players: they can inform the casino’s ADR (in writing) that they wish to have a specific ADR/ODR (of their choosing) to speak on their behalf while the casino’s ADR hears the case. In the end though, if the casino insists, their own ADR will be making the final judgement.