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Tighter rules for online gambling in the United Kingdom

Wed, Feb 13, 1:04pm by Staff Writer

Online gambling operators in the UK are facing tough new rules for verifying the age of their customers and restrictions on demanding further identification before processing customer withdrawals.

Last Thursday, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) released its new customer identity verification rules, which take effect on May 7, 2019.

The new requirements are part of the regulator’s three-year plan to ensure a ‘fairer and safer’ gambling environment for UK consumers.

The old rules allowed operators a 72-hour window in which to conduct age-verification checks.

Operators must now ensure a new customer is of legal gambling age before allowing that customer to deposit funds into their account or make any bet, according to Calvin Ayre.

The new age-verification rules similarly apply to the free-to-play gambling products on operators’ websites.

The UKGC acknowledges that these products are “not technically gambling” but holds the view that there’s “no legitimate reason” why such products should be available to minors.

The new rules also tackle the occasionally shady process of online operators demanding significant identity checks only after a customer wants to withdraw winnings.

The UKGC says 15 per cent of the complaints it received from consumers were about this issue.

Operators will now have to verify name, address and date of birth of customers before allowing them to gamble, while any additional verification questions must be asked “promptly”.

Gamstop in the spotlight

The UKGC says these new requirements will allow operators to better prevent potential gambling harm, in part because identities will now be cross-check with not only operators’ individual self-exclusion registries, but also with the data collected by the Gamstop multi-operator self-exclusive scheme.

The BBC reported significant concerns with the way the GamStop system was working after it allowed a gambler who had self-referred to still place bets online, simply by changing their user details.

Three online casino companies were ordered to pay penalties of £14 million and one prevented from operating in the UK following a crackdown by the Gambling Commission.

Daub Alderney was fined £7.1 million, Casumo £5.85 million and Videoslots £1 million, while CZ Holdings surrendered its license to operate in the UK.

After a review, the Commission found that Videoslots had been making initial inquiries into the source of customer funds, but failed to continue to make checks.

In one case, a Videoslots customer failed automated identity checks and instead provided a fraudulent driving license, which was not detected.

Customers will benefit because operators “cannot demand that customers submit ID as a condition of cashing out, if they have asked for that information earlier.”

The UKGC is now planning a new consultation on how operators will be expected to interact with customers who display potential problem gambling behaviour.

The UKGC CEO Neil McArthur added that the regulator would “keep using our powers to raise stands for consumers.”

The market reacted with some restraint to the news, as the shares of 888 Holdings, GVC Holdings, Paddy Power, Betfair, Playtech and William Hill all shed around 1.5-3 per cent of their value by the end of trading.

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