Identity checks have always been part and parcel of online betting, although more thorough checks have crept in over the last 5 years or so. At some point or another, it’s likely we’ve all had to send our details to our chosen bookmaker so they can verify who we are.
Well, in 2019 the process changed again. Previously, checks were only ever made when withdrawing money. It was a way in which the bookmaker could make sure that you weren’t money laundering and also that you didn’t have multiple accounts.
However, the UK Gambling commission (UKGC) are taking a more proactive approach and changing how the gambling industry works.
Some see this as an unnecessary intrusion but the UKGC are determined to make the industry a safer and fairer place for all.
The change that’s been brought in for 2019 requires users to verify their identity before they place their first bet instead of your first withdrawal.
There are two main reasons for the change.
The first point is to make sure that children aren’t allowed to gamble under age. Previously, if you were under 18 in the UK you could get away with creating a fake profile and then betting as you wish. The problems would only arise when it came to getting your funds out of the betting account.
The new process means that those funds would never have gotten into the account in the first place, because you would need to prove your identity to do so.
This also applies to any free play accounts as well. Some casinos still offer free or demo versions of their casino games for players to try out, but now will need a verified account to access them.
The second part of their crackdown is in the interest of creating a fairer playing field for legal aged punters.
The UKGC states that around 15% of all complaints made to them concern bookmakers and casinos not allowing players to withdraw their funds prior to sending identification documents.
The casinos and bookies in question are actually following the law, but it that wasn’t widely advertised so many punters didn’t know, resulting in unnecessarily angry customers making unnecessary complaints.
The new rules get all of this out of the way from the beginning, so it should be plain sailing once you have gone through the process.
Here is a list of things you may be asked to prove:
- Name, address, and date of birth as an absolute minimum.
- Any additional verification needs to be promptly requested before gambling.
- Before any deposit is made, identity documents will be required (Photo ID, driver’s license, passport etc.)
- Further proof to back up applications.
Another point that the UKGC wanted to address was the increase in problem gamblers, and more specifically the increasing number of people who have self-excluded but remain able to gain access to a bookmaker’s services.
These additional measures make it much harder for someone to create multiple accounts and should address this issue head on.
If a new player matches someone on a scheme like Gamstop, for instance, then they will be flagged and unable to open a new account.
How do I Prove Who I am?
There are going to be three identification documents that will help you during the checking process:
- Driver’s license
- Utility Bill
This shows the bookmaker your photo ID, proof of address, and proves you are a resident in the country and are therefore legally allowed to gamble with them. You may also be asked to prove your payment ID as well, which will require a photo or scanned copy of your bank card.
All bookmakers and casinos should allow you to send a picture of these if you don’t have access to a scanner. Most smartphone cameras are perfectly acceptable, just make sure that the picture is well lit and you can see all aspects of each piece of documentation that you photograph.
When you sign up with other banking methods such as PayPal or other e-wallets there is a good chance that you will be asked to send further information. This could be statements from those providers or even statements from your bank account to prove they are linked.
Is This a Good Thing?
This is definitely a good thing for the gambling industry.
The increase in problem gamblers alone has been massive issue in the UK, with over 55,000 kids aged 11-16 now officially addicted to gambling, which is a shocking and shameful statistic.
It could be that you’ve found this page because you are frustrated at the process taking longer and delaying you from getting started.
This is true, it will take longer, but if it manages to prevent people from ruining their lives from gambling then it’s got to be a positive step for the industry.
There are things you can do to smooth the process though.
How to Make the Process Easier
Remember, it’s 100% in the gambling company’s best interests to get you signed up as quickly as possible. They want you playing with them and spending money, so they are working with you here, not against you.
Help them to help you by being ready.
- Manage your expectations. Go into the process knowing that you aren’t getting the keys to your new ride straight away. Set aside 24-48 hours for your account to open, although it will likely happen much faster than that.
- Have copies of your photo ID, banking details, and your proof of address to hand. You can keep copies of these in secure files on your computer or your phone for easy access. You can lock these with password protection so no one else can get into them.
- If you aren’t asked for I.D straight away, then contact to the bookmaker to get it out the way as you will get asked at some point, it’s the law. It may be that the bookmaker already has your details on file, but it’s likely you will still need to send further info at some point. Get it out of the way and avoid hold ups later.
KYC means Know Your Customer and it is a buzz-phrase being bandied around in the industry at the moment. The UKGC wants all gambling companies to know more about who is coming through their virtual doors so that people who need help are easier to spot.
Of course, this means the companies will need more information from us.
How Will it Help?
The UKGC has stated that it plans to set limits on customers based on the information provided to the casino or bookie. This implies that, at some point, the companies will need to ask their customers more questions to determine whether or not they are gambling safely. These questions have already started to roll out.
They are based on a number of factors, but they are used to determine if gambling is causing any harm, either financially or mentally, to the customer in question. This helps to identify problem gamblers. Examples include:
- Financial indicators to assess whether people are gambling beyond their means. This will likely look at the amount of money they earn and then compare it to what they are spending.
- Behaviour within the casino or sportsbook. This includes overall time spent playing, intensity of activity, and stakes. This can all be monitored by the bookmaker or casino and then acted upon if necessary.
- Self-assessment screens which will be completed by the player and then assessed by the UKGC and the bookmaker to see if a problem is apparent.
As you can see, there are a lot of changes that the UKGC are rolling out, but it’s not going to make life harder for 90% of gamblers, however, it will help to highlight the minority that either need to be helped or need to stopped.
Identify checks are here to stay, so the best bit of advice that we can give is learn to accept it and be prepared with all the information that you think might be needed, remembering that this is for the best – short term pain for long term gain.