Article 4 min

Identity verification crucial to securing the meteoric growth of online gambling and video gaming

Streamlining AML-KYC for gambling and gaming

October 27, 2021  

Online gaming and gambling are two sectors that are thriving during the pandemic, as millions turn to gaming in the connected metaverse and online fantasy sports for entertainment.

Cybercriminals latched onto the opportunity immediately, siphoning funds from unsuspecting players and using the traffic spike to conceal illicit funds with false identities. The opportunity is irresistible to crooks, with assets for digital gaming platforms now estimated at $50 billion worldwide, and the value of the online gambling market expected to hit $72 billion this year.

PYMNTS’ October AML/KYC Tracker®, developed in collaboration with Trulioo, analyzes efforts to make online gambling and the video gaming ecosystem more secure using advances in identity verification to “see” bad actors before they do any damage. The Tracker states that:

“The main challenges in the years ahead will be ensuring that today’s increasingly global consumers can participate in the cross-border digital gaming space without compromising their data security. This means companies must implement robust KYC measures that can help them better comply with AML laws while offering the seamless onboarding experiences consumers have come to expect. They will also need to take the necessary steps to rid their platforms of nefarious actors bent on pilfering customers’ information to get in the money laundering game.”

To thwart illegal activity and avoid hefty fines being levied by regulators against players that fail to secure against these threats, more platforms are upping their AML/KYC game for 2022.

Online gambling faces mounting cyber threats and regulatory risks

Online gambling is being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, who are using unprecedented pandemic-era remote onboarding volumes to exploit platform security gaps.

Regulators are requiring casinos and gambling operators to make themselves more secure or face heavy penalties in this new and highly changeable environment.

Looking at events in the U.K., the Tracker notes that “the U.K. Gambling Commission recently issued a sharp warning to the nation’s gambling companies, noting that they will face legal repercussions for their firms’ regulatory failures even if the violations occurred before their ownership.”

That matches attempts to make physical casinos less attractive to money launderers. To that end, Macau has passed new gaming rules banning casino deposits to interest-bearing accounts.

The Tracker notes, however, that “casinos that adhere to the necessary regulatory and record-keeping requirements are not banned from accepting deposits in non-interest-bearing membership accounts,” which is good news for operators that invest in AML/KYC protections.

Video gaming platforms get serious about KYC

The online video gaming and eSports sector is also rife with AML/KYC issues – and while their growth during the pandemic is impressive, so too are the various hazards they face.

With multi-player video gaming growing massively during pandemic lockdowns to a market worth more than $300 billion — much of it comprised of “microtransactions” that take place within games — money launderers are being drawn to the sector in battalions, hacking into accounts and creating fake gaming avatars that enable them to launder funds, often without detection.

This is heightening awareness of AML/KYC needs for gaming firms at a pivotal moment.

And it’s not just platforms and regulators that are cognizant of the benefits of proper AML/KYC measures in these online ecosystems. For example, in a recent Trulioo report, 80% of online gamers said they are intolerant of a poor account creation process, while 77% said it can “make or break” whether they will engage with a brand in the future.

To fight back, the October Tracker notes that “digital ID adoption can improve the effectiveness of cybercrime prevention as well, a recent study found. When asked to identify the key benefits of digital ID, 34% of participants said KYC processes were the biggest benefit, while 20% cited lower operational costs and efficiency, and 14% cited more robust verification processes.”