In its report last year, the UK Gambling Commission published some disquieting findings: three percent of children, between the ages of 11 and 16, had gambled online. Following the publication of the report, new identity verification requirements for licensed online gaming operators were mandated; these are expected to go into effect on May 7, in England, Scotland and Wales.
Here’s what you need to know about these requirements:
Previously, operators could take up to 72 hours to perform age verification on new players; operators couldn’t issue payouts to players before running age checks, and had to refund any stakes played by a minor; in theory, however, minors could place bets before the verification was concluded. The new rules expressly prohibit any gaming activity before age verification, obligating gaming operators to refrain from accepting any bets before the user’s age is verified.
The new rules also apply to so-called “play-for-free” games, which look and feel like gambling, but do not involve any stakes. The Gambling Commission, however, saw no legitimate reason why such games should be available to children.
Customer due diligence
Besides age verification, there are other significant reasons to perform identity verification; as gaming deals with large sums of money, it’s a natural target for money launderers. Hence, customer due diligence (CDD) requirements are in place to better understand the true identity of a customer and the risks they pose.
In the UK, as stated in the Review, “as a general rule, for remote casinos CDD must be applied on a risk sensitive basis (so the measures should be tailored to the risk attributed to the specific customer), but CDD is mandatory in respect of all customers who trigger the CDD threshold of €2000.”
Gaming operations also have a social responsibility to ensure that certain categories of gamers aren’t allowed to play. This includes players who register on the operators’ own self-exclusion schemes and on the online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, Gamstop. Effective identity verification checks help ensure that these self-exclusions schemes are upheld.
An additional factor for the new rules is ensuring fairness when it comes to payouts. In certain cases, operators were asking for additional identity verification when a player requested a withdrawal. The Gambling Commission felt this was unfair, arguing that operators ought to let customers know the full scope of identity verification requirements before accepting their funds.
Here are the new rules: To help fulfill these requirements, the new rules require remote licensees to:
- Verify, as a minimum, the name, address and date of birth of a customer before allowing them to gamble
- Ask for any additional verification information promptly
- Inform customers, before they can deposit funds, of the types of identity documents or other information that might be required, the circumstances in which the information might be required, and how it should be supplied to the licensee
- Take reasonable steps to ensure that information on their customers’ identities remains accurate.
For operators who don’t have efficient and effective verification tools in place, it’ll be a scramble just to meet compliance requirements. However, meeting requirements alone isn’t the only criterion – providing a quick and convenient onboarding experience to users is essential in a highly competitive industry such as online gaming. Smart operators will recognize this and place a premium on mobile onboarding.
On the operational side, the process should be adaptable allowing the quick deployment of new procedures, technologies or data points. Scalability in both handling more customers and expansion into new markets is another consideration.
New compliance requirements needn’t be a burden if you have proper identity systems in place. If your systems are somehow lacking, this is a perfect opportunity to review your procedures, processes and determine a path forward for long-term success.