Age-Verification: New Legislation Offers Greater Protection for Online Gamblers
The Gambling Commission (UKGC) has introduced age-verification laws to help safeguard young people from the effects of online gambling. It comes amid calls to make online gambling safer and fairer to help curb gambling amongst young people.
From the 7th May 2019, online casinos must verify their customers’ identity before they deposit funds or play games, including free bets and bonuses.
The new rules require operators 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.
(Source: The Gambling Commission)
And the stakes are high. Online casinos found to be breaking regulations face hefty penalties, including the potential loss of their gambling licence.
How Is This Different from Previous Legislation?
Age-verification laws have been around for a while now, but there are several marked differences in this latest update.
Until now, online casinos had 72-hours to carry out checks, meaning customers could deposit money into their accounts and play games within that timeframe. This left the legislation ripe for exploitation as underage gamblers simply exploited this loophole, moving from one casino to the next once their 72-hours were up.
The new age-verification legislation requires customers to prove their age before they deposit money or play any games.
What’s the Verdict for Online Gamblers?
This is actually good news for some customers because, in the past, some online casinos waited until their customers cashed-out in order to ask for ID. Customers unaware of the need to verify their identity were sometimes reluctant to provide ID at this late stage, because either they didn’t have any (e.g. underage gamblers) or because of the fear of giving up sensitive information (e.g. identity theft – sending online casinos your passport details does feel risky!).
Because of these issues, customers were unable to cash out and so lost their deposits and their winnings.
Some less-than-scrupulous casinos intentionally waited until the last moment to ask for ID knowing that some of their customers would be unwilling or unable to provide it and then subsequently confiscating these funds.
Effectively stealing from their customers. When there’s zero chance of a punter withdrawing their funds, the house definitely wins out!
It’s a muggy tactic, but it happened. (Check out the review section for a list of reputable casinos)
UKGC had previously warned casinos against confiscating funds due to ID verification problems. Fortunately, this new legislation leaves no space for casinos to exploit the withdrawal process in this way.
Data Management Fears
To prove their age, customers now have to submit sensitive information – such as birth certificates – to the online casinos. As mentioned above, this makes people afraid of gambling online for fear of having their information stolen.
Every week there seems to be a new scandal where hackers gain access to people’s private information. Identity theft is a real and pressing fear for many of us.
Fortunately, the UKGC has you covered. Before customers sign-up, gambling sites (operating in the UK) will have to explain exactly which documents they require and exactly how they will safeguard customer information.
Online casinos fear that this latest round of legislation will lead to fewer sign-ups and a longer verification process. But what are your thoughts? Are you happy with the new legislation?
Can you prove your identity?