UKGC boosting online safety with new age verification standards

The Gambling Commission has released a new set of rules, ensuring that operators implement a new wave of age verifications checks “to make gambling safer and fairer”.

Following an open consultation, and to further guard against the risk of children gambling, new rules mean operators must verify customer age before they can either deposit funds into an account or gamble with the licensee, with either their own money or a free bet or bonus.

Furthermore, the UKGC has clamped down on free-to-play games, stressing that customer must now be age verified to access such versions gambling games on licensees’ websites, emphasising that “there is no legitimate reason why they should be available to children”.

Changes are also designed to aid with the detection of criminal activity, whilst operators are reminded that they cannot demand that ID be submitted as a condition of cashing out, if they could have asked for that information earlier.

Finally, an increase in identifying self-excluded players was stressed, “because effective verification by operators will mean that a customer will not be verified, and therefore unable to gamble, until they provide correct details. These details will then be checked against both the operator’s own self-exclusion database and the verified data held by Gamstop”.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, explained: “These changes will protect children and the vulnerable from gambling-related harm, and reduce the risk of crime linked to gambling.  They will also make gambling fairer by helping consumers collect their winnings without unnecessary delay.

“Britain’s online gambling market is the largest regulated market in the world and we want to make sure it is the safest and the fairest. Today’s changes follow our review of online gambling and our ongoing widespread regulatory action into the online sector.  We will keep using our powers to raise standards for consumers.”

Set to come into force on Tuesday 7 may, further new rules come as a result of a number of complaints to contact centre staff, regarding licensees not allowing a customer to withdraw funds until they submit certain forms of ID.

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.

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, added: “These significant changes mean operators must check someone’s age before they gamble, and not after.

“They rightly add an extra layer of protection for children and young people who attempt to gamble online. By extending strong age verification rules to free-to-play games we are creating a much safer online environment for children, helping to shut down a possible gateway to gambling- related harm.”

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