Online gambling sites in the UK are failing to offer adequate customer service.

That's according to an independent survey carried out by customer service expert Talisma.

The amount of money passing through online gambling sites in 2006 looks like exceeding the £5bn mark. That makes it one of the country's fastest growing industries, spurred on by a Government intent on encouraging online gambling firms into the UK.

The audit by Talisma looked at the gambling sites' ability to deal with customer service requests. It asked all of the most 100 popular UK gambling sites whether it was legal to bet over the internet in the United Kingdom.

It got less than satisfactory results: 40 per cent of emails didn't get any response at all. 16 per cent of telephone calls weren't even answered and 30 per cent of online inquiries weren't replied to. 80 per cent of the sites were not able to offer answers to the questions posed.

"Over the past few years the industry has made a significant investment in online gambling sites. Many organisations are failing to integrate their online services with customer service operations.

When you consider that the online gambling market is becoming increasingly competitive and that customers are able to move to a competitor with a click of a mouse, organisations need to start perceiving customer service as a differentiator rather then a luxury," said Talisma's vice president of international operations, Jon McNerney. James Rivington