Tough New Age Verification Rules Set for UK Casinos

Over the past few years, the Gambling Commission (UKGC) has taken a much firmer stance on online gambling in the UK.

This has led to high-profile fines being issued to some of the industry’s top performers, with the regulatory body clearly not bothered about ruffling a few feathers if it makes the entire setup safer. On Thursday 7th February, more Gambling Commission news was announced with new legislation targeting children gambling.

Today we’ve announced new rules for online gambling businesses. Customers will need to be age-verified before they’re able to deposit funds, access free-to-play versions of gambling games, or gamble with a free bet or bonus. See more: #fairerandsafer

— Gambling Commission (@GamRegGB) February 7, 2019

When these changes are implemented in just a few short months, it will have an impact not only on the operators themselves but also UK players.

What Changes Are Being Made

This Gambling Commission update is changing the way that operators verify each player’s identity. Previously, they were only required to perform these checks when a player made a withdrawal request. But after a Gambling Commission report calculated that close to 15% of all complaints were related to issues with withdrawing funds, they decided to act.

The changes mean that all UK licensed operators must verify each player’s age before:

  • Any betting or wagering takes place whatsoever – including both real money and the use of free bets or bonuses.
  • Any deposit can be made
  • Any free-to-play game can be accessed

There are several reasons why the UKGC have made these amendments. Here are the main benefits that they believe these updates will bring:

  • Operators will be able to detect more known problem gamblers before they gamble – as they can cross-reference player details with their own exclusion programme, plus Gamstop’s database.
  • They will also be better equipped to spot illegal activities.
  • It should reduce the percentage of complaints they receive about withdrawals.
  • Underage gamblers will no longer be able to access free casino games, making the industry safer for children.

How Will These Rules Affect the Current State of Play

While these rules all have a lot of merit, there’s no question that there will be a transition period – for both operators and players.

From the operators’ perspective, more resources will need to be put into verifying new players quickly and efficiently. This will probably increase expenses but should at least have the benefit of reducing the number of complaints they get for slow payouts. For those UK casinos who payout the quickest on average, this shouldn’t pose as much of a problem than to those who take several days.

As you can imagine, 99% of players who create an online casino account want to start betting right away – but will every licensed UK casino be able to process verification checks in such a short window of time? We think it will certainly prove difficult for some.

As for the players’ perspective, the main issue will be adjusting to verification before being able to play. It’s no secret that certain gamers like to bounce around sites, taking up new bonuses from the latest online casinos. Whether this will still be a viable option depends on how quickly the verification checks will take place.
Either way, all players will almost certainly need to wait longer before they can start to gamble.

When Will All This Come into Force

This new legislation will be enacted on Tuesday 7th May, so in less than 3 months.
This gives all parties time to effectively plan for the changes being made, but whether everyone will be fully prepared by this deadline is up in the air.
What’s more, further Gambling Commission news and legislation is expected in the coming months after the body announced the launch of a separate consultation regarding interacting with those who may be experiencing problems, and the effectiveness of blocking software.
All that will be published in a new Gambling Commission report upon completion.

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