Safety and fairness key in new UKGC age verification introduction

Online operators have been ordered to implement a new wave of age verifications checks to make gambling safer and fairer, following an open consultation undertaken by the UK Gambling Commission.

The new rules have been introduced to ensure operators verify customers’ age and identity details faster, which will benefit consumers, and form a change from current rules.

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.

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said of the introductions: “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.”

Set to come into force on Tuesday 7 may, the UKGC has also clamped down on free-to-play games, stressing that customers must now be age verified to access such versions of games on licensees’ websites, emphasising that “there is no legitimate reason why they should be available to children”.

The changes, which it is states will also aid the detection of criminal activity, also sees operators 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, commented: “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.”