Stricter UK laws now require more stringent ID checks
All UK Gambling Commission licensed gaming operators must perform player verification checks to find out:
If you are old enough to gamble
If you’ve been self-excluded from gambling
To confirm your identity
What documents does a bookie need?
Although licenced operators have some discretion in the amount of personal information they request, it’s typically the case that you’ll have to supply documents accepted under KYC (Know Your Customer) rules that contain the following information:
Photograph on an official document which confirms your identity
Residential address and date of birth
In line with KYC stipulations and money laundering regulations the following documents are now accepted as proof of identity/address:
Passport or Driver's licence
Recent utility bill (within last three months, and usually a mobile bill is not allowed)
Bank or mortgage statement (within last three months)
Whilst you may be nervous about uploading or emailing over such personal & sensitive documentation, it is unfortunately neccessary if you want to continue with these sites, and particularly if you want to make a withdrawal.
In certain circumstances, you may be asked to prove your identity and submit documents before your first withdrawal. For example, if you hit £2,000 in accumulated cashout, you’ll have to manually verify who you are (such as taking a photo of you holding your ID).
On top of this, sites may well ask for a photo of the debit or credit card that you deposited with. If they do, just remember to blank out the middle numbers, and the CVV (3 digit) code on the back.
Many casinos and betting sites now employ electronic checks that take place in the background without you knowing. These provide enough information for a gaming site to verify who you are and how old you are.
How long does the verification take?
If you’re not electronically verified, and documents are requested, then you’ll invariably be able to upload scanned images of your KYC documents directly to your account page (or to email over your documents).
By use of an internal form to upload documents with a message sent to the verification team, the process should take only a few hours (depending upon the day of week, and time of day). However, be prepared for some sites to take a few days, and chase via the online support chat if need be.
Verification anomalies and requests
Although it’s rare that a casino will ask for further proof of your identity, it can happen. If an operator suspects that an account is being used to launder money, i.e. making a lot of deposits and withdrawals in a short space of time, it will carry out an advanced check. This can involve a soft credit check or a request to see the user’s bank details.
Beyond this extreme example, an online casino may request further proof of identity in the following instances:
Your passport or driver’s licence has expired
Your utility bill or bank statement breaches the three-month time limit
Your passport photo isn’t clear or has been defaced
Your driver’s licence doesn’t contain a photo
There are inconsistencies in the information submitted i.e. names, date of birth and address don’t match government/official records
What happens if your account cannot be verified?
This will differ from site to site, but if you don’t have the necessary documents to confirm your identity or age, then either your account will be suspended or you will be able to carry on depositing and playing, but will be unable to withdraw any funds until your account is verified.
Verification delays and issues
All UKGC licensed casinos will store any information and documents in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 (and more recently the European GDPR directive). In contrast, if you choose to play at an unregulated online casino, you run the risk of identity theft, fraud being perpetrated etc.
Some unscrupulous sites have also used the player verification process to delay and even deny withdrawals. By stating that a cashout can’t be completed until an account is verified, rogue operators can essentially keep hold of your money until they see fit. For this reason alone, you should only register with a UK licensed bookie or casino.
Why do gaming sites need to verify accounts?
The need for player verification came into effect in 2005 through the Gambling Act, with the need to prevent fraud and money laundering. Under the Gambling Act 2005, operators with a licence from the UKGC must comply with three main objectives; a) the need to stop gambling from becoming a source of crime or disorder, b) being associated with crime or disorder and c) used as a vehicle to support crime. In light of this, casinos & bookies need to monitor any persons they suspect of crimes such as money laundering. Looking specifically at the UKGC’s code of conduct, licensees must adopt a “risk-based approach” to the “exercise of its supervisory functions”. Along with a host of additional stipulations, this basically means that operators have to take all necessary steps to ensure that money wagered it legit.
Using this as a foundation, the more recent Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 made it necessary for remote online casinos to obtain a UK gambling licence if they wanted to accept UK customers. From this, remote operators were now required to identify, record and prevent possible instances of crime and this gave rise to the practice of age and identity verification.
Quick to slower player verification sites
As you’d expect, online casinos and bookmakers are different when it comes to the account verification process. Although they all have the same requests and goals, the times they take do differ. So, this may be something to consider when signing up with anyone outside of the big named bookies and/or online casinos.