More and more players are becoming increasingly concerned about being asked for sensitive information when opening a new online gambling account. What can online gambling companies ask for and why?
Sarah from Sheffield asks…
Having to provide ID is one of those minor inconveniences that is becoming more and more common in daily life nowadays, and so it is hardly surprising that that should include gambling online.
First of all, we should point out that ID verification is a legal requirement in the UK. The main reason that online gambling companies demand ID is….
We will cover the reasons for this in a little more depth in a moment. First, let’s go over the types of documents that you are asked to submit when registering a new account at an online casino or sportsbook.
Most online betting companies will ask for a selection of the following ID documents. The most important of these is the photo ID.
Photo ID used by online betting companies is mostly to verify a person’s age. The UK government is concerned about the levels of underage gambling in the UK which is why they have implemented steps to reduce it.
The penalties for non-compliance can be extremely severe. A recent honey-trap conducted by the UK Gambling Commission held during Royal Ascot, found that just 10 out of 17 on-course bookmakers asked a 16-year old for ID when he went to place a £5 wager. The resultant fine for the 7 bookmakers who failed to ask the youngster for proof of age amounted to 2.5% of their combined Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) for the year. A phenomenal amount!
As well as providing proof of age, you will also be asked to provide proof of address. This is one requirement that a lot of new players may not understand, but the answer is a simple one. Online gambling companies will almost always limit the amount of registered online gambling accounts to one per household. This has the effect of reducing the possibility of fraud due to one person registering multiple accounts.
Where you live may also be a factor later on too. Should you gamble online for large amounts the online gambling company must take steps to verify proof of income. Basically, are you able to justify and afford the levels of play that you are indulging in?
For example. If you live in a council flat in Ealing but you are depositing £20,000 per month then that will be flagged as an ‘unusual betting pattern’ and you will have to verify your source of income. We will discuss this in more depth a little bit further on.
Scans of your bank cards is another request that some people may find puzzling. However, betting companies often require this information so that they can associate a particular card with a particular account, which may help to identify any unusual transactions.
Those of you who use e-wallets, such as Neteller or Skrill, may also have to prove that your account is in fact owned by you. The reasons for this are more to do with money laundering than anything else. The same applies to anyone using any form of the mobile-only payments system.
Online gambling companies are required by law to conduct a self-exclusion database search. All companies that offer gambling services have to be part of a (multi-operator) self-exclusion scheme. Examples of self-exclusion databases include Gamcare and the SENSE database which is run by the Betting & Gaming Council and is the database used by land-based gaming operators in the UK.
Your ID will always be checked against any records held about you by any of these databases. If you have self-excluded from an online or a land-based operator using one of these methods within the last 12 months then you will be unable to open an account.
Now we come to the big one. Anti-Money Laundering. It is no secret that some online gambling companies have been the target of money laundering operations by criminal gangs in recent years. Due to the nature of online gambling (and indeed gambling in general), it has been easy for criminals to launder dirty money using online or land-based gambling operations.
This is why the UK and EU Governments have taken massive steps to prevent criminals from washing their dirty money online.
Money laundering is the act of disposing of dirty money gained through criminal acts and turning it into clean money that can be proven to have been obtained legitimately.
One of these ways is to monitor the way in which money is being transacted online. If for example you regularly gamble large amounts of money (usually £5000 per 24 hour period or £20,000 per 30 days) then you will likely trigger an EDD investigation and may have to prove from where you source your money.
The ID requirements we have spoken about earlier such as photo ID and proof of address are what is known as Customer Due Diligence (CDD) sometimes referred to by online gambling companies as Know Your Customer (KYC). These are the very basic requirements that most people will be asked for when opening a new online gambling account.
Then there is EDD….
Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) is when the betting operator is required under UK law to ask for more intimate information. This information will be regarding your source of funds, basically where you get your money from. The type of information they may ask for is….
Should you trigger an EDD report the gambling operator must ask for documentary evidence of the above. They will also have to create a physical report which will be logged with the company Anti-Money Laundering Reporting Officer (AMLRO). Should there be cause for concern then the AMLRO must submit a Suspicious Activity Report (SRA) to the National Crime Agency (NCA). As you can clearly see, anti-money laundering (or more accurately) money laundering, is taken very seriously by betting operators.
Of course, most of you will never come into contact with this form of investigation. This is reserved for extreme cases and those gamblers that can afford to gamble at very high levels. However, it is interesting to know, and I hope that you now understand why online gambling operators ask for the ID documents that they do, and what they use them for.