UKGC sets new rules for online operators

The gambling regulator has set new rules for online operators. Credits: UKGC

The commission has revealed new online gambling rules  to make the industry safer.

UK.- The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced on Thursday new rules that online operators will have to follow in order to make the industry safer and fairer. These rules, which come into force on May 7, will ensure that operators verify customers’ age and identity details faster.

Online gambling businesses current have 72 hours to carry out safe verification checks. The operator can’t allow customers to withdraw winnings until age verification has been completed and must return stakes if the person is found to be underage.

In order to decrease risk of children gambling, the new rules establish that operators must verify customer age before the customer can deposit funds into an account and gamble with the licensee with either their own money or a free bet or bonus.

Moreover, the Commission is also reiterating that customers must be age verified before they are able to access free-to-play versions of gambling games on licensees’ websites. While free-to-play games are not technically gambling (there is no prize involved), there is no legitimate reason why they should be available to children.

The new rules require 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.

The changes will help operators better prevent harm or detect criminal activity because they have more information about their customers. In addition, the changes will mean that operators cannot demand that customers submit ID as a condition of cashing out, if they could have asked for that information earlier. Finally, the changes will increase the likelihood that someone will be identified if they attempt to gamble while self-excluded.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission Chief Executive, said: “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.”

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

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