As of 7th May, online gambling operators must verify the age and identity of their players before they can gamble.
The Gambling Commission has tightened up its Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice to ensure that Age and Identity checks are carried out on customers before they gamble a penny.
This replaces a more loosely enforced code that meant customers could often gamble, especially in small amounts or with no deposit bonuses, before having to prove identity. Frequently, customers were able to make their opening deposits or enjoy free spins offers by only signing-up and providing card or e-wallet details. Sometimes customers could even make small withdrawals depending on the size and the operator. Only when larger transactions occurred would full KYC (Know Your Customer) checks have to take place.
Under the newly introduced edict, the operator must be able to verify the age, the address, and the date of birth of a customer before they can gamble.
However, part of the new code has put the onus on operators to gather and process the necessary documentation more efficiently than before. Hopefully, despite this minor road block to online gambling, the long waits for ID processing (sometimes 48 hours or more) should be a thing of the past.
In addition, the gambling commission has made it clear that although all new and prior customers now must get verified by 7th May before they can continue to gamble, a remote operator is not allowed to confiscate funds in a player’s account just because they haven’t made the deadline. As per the recommendations last year from the CMA (Competition & Markets Authority), a player is entitled to their deposits and winnings derived from it provided the relevant conditions have been met. This report was undertaken to ensure fairness for the customer after many terms and conditions were deemed to be unreasonable.
The new regulation effectively ends the “No Deposit” Bonus as we know it on casino, bingo and sports betting sites. Before a player can take up a free bet, bonus or spins offer, they must fulfil age verification. In another big shake up, players can only play demo slots or games once they have verified their age even if they are not betting with real money. This is perhaps the biggest difference to the past regulation. It demonstrates the Gambling Commission’s commitment to ward off appealing to children and teenagers.
The new regulation will certainly change the complexion of the online gambling industry in the UK. However, the full effects are not yet known.