United Kingdom

United Kingdom’s New Age and ID Protections Go Into Effect

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has issued an advisory reminding both UK-licensed operators and the general gambling public that new and stricter rules involving age and identity verification have gone into effect in the last week. Among them, and effective as of Tuesday, May 7, is the requirement that customers’ age and ID must be verified before that customer is allowed to participate in any sort of gaming on UK-licensed sites, even “free to play” offerings.

The latest set of rules enhancements to go active continues the Gambling Commission’s years-long project of bringing the many facets of the UK’s gambling industry compliant with the Kingdom’s consumer-protection laws, which are some of the strictest in the world. This latest update follows on a consultation begun in 2018 with industry stakeholders, watchdog groups and the gambling public, and implements in large part a series of changes announced in February. The latest changes have been added to the UK’s regulatory bible for online gambling, the License Conditions and Codes of Practice.

UK Gambling CommissionThe nutshell version of the latest age- and ID-verification rules, as writ by the UKGC, reads like this: “From Tuesday 7 May, if an operator has not yet verified the name, address and date of birth of any customer, they will need to have completed verification before allowing that customer to gamble. Operators will therefore need to prevent any unverified customer from gambling until they have gone through the verification process.”

Operators are expected to complete the verification within a 72-hour window, with no gambling allowed by the customer — for cash or play only — until the verification process is complete. The rules apply to any form of online gambling available to UK citizens, ranging from casino games to poker and sports betting to online lotteries and more.

Here are the new rules regarding age and identity verification:

Age verification

We will require remote licensees to verify the age of any customer before the customer can:

• deposit funds into an account
• access any free-to-play games the licensee may make available, or
• gamble with the licensee with either their own money or a free bet or bonus.

These changes to LCCP will apply to remote betting and gaming operators, as well as lotteries (other than those lotteries that only offer subscription or low frequency lotteries)

Identity verification

We will introduce a new licence condition that requires 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.

As with the requirements for age verification, this new licence condition will apply to remote
betting and gaming operators, as well as lotteries (other than those lotteries that only offer
subscription or low frequency lotteries).

Existing UK-based online accounts must also be verified retroactively, and that, in turn, led to a question the UKGC addressed in its latest update. Will operators be allowed to confiscate the account balances of gamblers who fail to authenticate their existing accounts in the wake of the new activation rules? The answer is no: Operators will be forced to return deposits and balances to consumers, and in the cases where the true owners of funds cannot be determined, those funds will likely be forfeited to the UKGC.

The full list of approved changes as announced in February is available here.

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