With effect from today (7 May 2019) online gambling operators will be required by the Gambling Commission to conduct identity verification checks on their customers before they are permitted to deposit funds and gamble on their websites.
In preparation for these new requirements and recognising their potential to impact on the dispute process, IBAS has reviewed the Gambling Commission’s requirements for operators and met with Commission officials to gain a clearer understanding of what the regulator expects of their licence holders.
We recognise that the additional checks that are required as part of the account opening process may in some cases inconvenience or frustrate some people who are looking to open an account in order to bet on a specific, forthcoming sporting event. However, we acknowledge that the intended benefits of the checks are significant – particularly to prevent underage gambling, to protect consumers who may previously have self-excluded and to deter unfair practices concerning the delaying of returning consumers’ funds
It is clear from our discussions with the Gambling Commission that online businesses which let pass opportunities to conduct appropriate identification checks on their customers and delay these, for example, until withdrawals are requested, risk both adverse decisions by ADR providers such as IBAS and regulatory intervention.
It is also clear that the new regulations are not intended to incentivise unfair or unreasonable behaviour on the part of consumers. Customers of online gambling sites who breach reasonable terms and conditions should not assume that the initial identity checks that they completed when their account was opened will guarantee the payment of winnings generated through that account.
IBAS was encouraged by the recent political interest in the importance of online businesses being able to easily verify that debit cards or other methods of online account funding are held in the name of the account holder. The Gambling Commission has been clear that it expects operators who suspect third party account funding to investigate this as soon as possible. From a dispute avoidance perspective and to prevent any accusation of wrongdoing, anyone who gambles online should deposit funds only using cards or other payment methods held in their own name. This applies even if someone else has given you permission to use their card or e-wallet.