Consultation on age and identity verification

Published on 20 December 2018

What are the new age and identity verification rules that the Gambling Commission proposes to introduce?

The background

In an effort to curb underage gambling and, following recommendations made in the March 2018 Review of Online Gambling, the Gambling Commission has published a consultation with regards to enhancing the process of verifying customer’s age and identity. 

The consultation applies not only to remote gaming and betting licensees but also to identify verification solution providers and some society lotteries and external lottery managers (eg “instant win” games).  The Commission is asking all interested parties to be proactive in suggesting ways in which future verification can be undertaken. 

The current Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP), created in 2007, require licensees to complete the age and identification review within 72 hours.  Within this allotted time (and before checks have been carried out) the customer can gamble and deposit money, but may not withdraw their earnings.  In the event that the customer is underage, the licensee must return their money.  Remote lottery licensees have the same standards.  Furthermore, the licensee is not obligated to check the age or the address of every customer that pays with a credit card – a randomised check will fulfil the current requirements. 

The development

Age verification

The Commission wants to introduce more stringent rules than the current 72 hour time limit and a non-mandatory credit card check.  Licensees and remote lottery licensees will have to identify the age of their customers:

  • before they are able to deposit money or gamble
  • before they are able to access free-to-play versions of gambling games or free-to-play online instant win games that licensees and remote lottery licensees make available on their websites. 

The Commission has not set out a process by which the licensees should carry out the verification of age and has not prohibited the use of third party software or credit reference databases to verify age.  The Commission is aware that many licensees already have systems to identify the age of their customers before they are allowed to gamble and that new advances in software could result in faster checks. 

Identity verification

The Commission has proposed that licensees should be obtaining and verifying information about their customers at an earlier stage in their relationship with them.  Licensees would have to authenticate a number of details about the customer including the name, address, date of birth and email address before they are allowed to gamble.  Furthermore, where the customer needs additional checks, the proposed regulation would not allow licensees to permit them to gamble until they had confirmed all the relevant information needed. 

The Commission has also proposed to strengthen the current randomised credit card verification provision that licensees should make sure that the customer’s name is the same as the name that is connected to the payment process. 

The Commission would require that the suggested rules, on the implementation date, apply to both new and current customers, meaning that every registered customer is properly verified. 

Why is this important?

With the rise in marketing and advertising of gambling coinciding with the increase in the rates of underage gambling, there is a growing awareness of the need to make changes to prevent underage gamblers.

The current provision of a 72 hour time for a check-up allows underage participants to deposit money and gamble without authorisation for three days.  In addition, free versions of games on licensees’ websites are seen to contribute to the encouragement of underage gambling.  The suggested provision concerning the names of the payment maker and the customer are intended to identify young people who may be using other people’s credit cards to gamble. 

The abolishment of the 72 hour rule may help protect gamblers in general from being treated unfairly, as currently some gambling businesses use the rule to postpone a customer’s collection of earnings.

Any practical tips?

Promotions for new users of a betting company are common-place, often with the aim of enabling them to sign up quickly and make bets on the same day.  The new verification processes may mean releasing advertising or marketing for a particular bet earlier than normal.

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