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Stopping Underage Gambling – New Gambling Commission Code

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Stopping Underage Gambling – New Gambling Commission Code

For some time the Gambling Commission, the body who control gambling within the UK,  have been concerned as to what steps on-line operators are taking to ensure children do not have access to their sites, and how effectively problem gamblers are able to self-exclude.

The Commission also reported last year that they have received complaints some online operators were treating customers unfairly by requesting additional identity checks when the customer attempted to withdraw winnings.

In order to try and alleviate these problems the Gambling Commission has announced new rules which online operators must follow. They aim to make gambling safer and fairer for those involved and particularly help to exclude children from gambling. The new rules come into force on 7th May 2019.

The press release announcing these changes can be read using the links at the bottom of the page, but, in summary, the new Rules are there to ensure operators verify all customers’ ages and identity details before they can gamble.

The new Rules can be found as Annexes to the Consultation document (see below for access) which is downloadable from the Commission website. They amend the Social Responsibility parts of the Codes of Practice which bind operators.

The new Code requires Licensees to have, and put into place, policies and procedures designed to prevent underage gambling. In summary, the procedures must include

  • Verifying the age of a customer before they can deposit funds, access any free to play versions of games, or gamble using either their own money or any free bet or bonus
  • Warnings to customers that underage gambling is an offence
  • Regularly reviewing the age verification procedures
  • Ensuring staff are properly trained
  • Enabling websites to permit filtering software to be used by adults in order to restrict access

Under the old Rules, online gambling businesses have previously been allowed 72 hours to carry out age verification checks. The operator cannot permit customers to withdraw winnings until age verification has been completed and must return stakes if the person is found to be underage.

The new rules require remote licensees (those who operate online) 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 they have more information on their customers, the new rules will assist operators in detecting criminal activity. It will also mean that operators cannot demand that customers submit more ID as a condition of being paid their winnings if they could have asked for that information earlier.

Finally these Rules will assist with self-exclusion. This is a procedure whereby problem gamblers can ask operators to bar them from their sites. This can be done through an operator’s own self-exclusion schemes and also the online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, Gamstop. Effective verification checks will help pick up those gamblers who have self-excluded.

If you would like more information please contact our Director of Regulatory Services Peter Adkins

The Press Release from the Gambling Commission can be viewed by clicking here

The Gambling Commission document summarising the changes to the licence conditions can be accessed by clicking here the consultation document and detailed rules can be found here

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