Pennsylvania Gambling Regulators Attempt to Clarify Consumer Complaint Procedures

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has published a statement for the state’s gambling consumers that seeks to clarify and expand the procedures for gamblers to file either a complaint (non-monetary) or dispute (monetary) connected to Pennsylvania’s gambling operations. The notice comes as the first of the Keystone State’s regulated online-gambling sites have begun to offer real-money services, with more sites to follow in the coming months.

The PGCB’s purpose with the reminder is to expand the state’s consumer knowledge that gamblers having issues have ready access to online forms, available on the PGCB’s home site, allowing consumers to file either complaints or disputes for both land-based and interactive gaming.

The PGCB describes the difference between a complaint and a dispute as follows: “A complaint is a difference of opinion between the licensed gaming entity and the patron, which does not involve money or items of value. A dispute is a claim for a specific amount of cash or merchandise.”

Pennsylvania’s Race Horse Development and Gaming Act gives the PGCB the authority to handle almost all such complaints connected with regulated gambling in the state. The only exceptions are possible criminal violations alleged by patrons, which are to be handled by the Pennsylvania State Police.

The PGCB presser highlights the fact that live-casino and online-site complaints and disputes are to be handled through separate processes, though both begin with interactive forms as found on a dedicated PGCB page. However, the PGCB notes one key difference, in that any online complaint or dispute must first be taken up with the online operator, each of which is supposed to have related links already in place.

As the PGCB noted, “The Board does note that in order to file a complaint or dispute involving interactive gaming, the patron must first file a complaint or dispute with the interactive gaming provider. This is critical since the PGCB’s interactive form will require entry of a complaint number generated by the interactive gaming provider when you file with them.”

The PGCB reminder also notes that for complaints or disputes connected to gambling, the aggrieved customer has only 30 days following the incident in which to file a complaint with the state. However, the regulatory reminder does not necessarily remind the consumer to leave a little bit of extra lead time to do the mandatory prerequisite of filing the complaint or dispute with the online operator. Only through that step does the consumer receive a ticket/complaint number, which is then to be input on the PGCB’s own interactive form.

The steps are more clearly defined on the actual complaint/dispute launching page, which resorts to red text and all caps in an effort to drive the process home. The 30-day window, however, is still likely to be the stumbling block that trips up potential complainants or disputing parties.

Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board also notes that questions or disputes not covered by the framework can be brought to the PGCB via e-mail at [email protected]

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