Last week, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission announced new rules which online casino operators must follow. These new rules focus on verifying customers' ages and identity details, in a bid to make gambling safer and fairer for all.
The new rules mean that the operators will now have a 72-hour window to carry out verification checks. However, prior to these checks being made, the customer will not be able to deposit money into their casino accounts nor will they be able to play with a free bet or bonus.
The overall aim of the new rules, which come into effect in May, is to ensure that no underage players are able to register and play at an online casino.
Whilst this is obviously a good thing, the new checks could slow down sign-up processes and, ultimately, lead to the removal of welcome packages and no deposit bonuses.
The New Rules
At the moment, online casinos are allowed 72 hours to carry out age verification checks. During this time, the operator cannot allow players to withdraw winnings and must return all stakes if the person is found to be underage.
However, under the new rules, operators will also need to verify a players age before she/he is allowed to
- deposit into a casino account
- gamble with either their own money or a free bet/bonus
In addition, players will need to be age verified before they can access free-to-play versions of games. This means that you won't be able to try games out in demo-mode until you've been approved by the casino.
How Will the New Measures Help Players?
The good news is that the UKGC have designed these rules to make playing at online casinos fairer for everyone. Not only will the new rules help to prevent underage gambling, but they could also improve the standard casino experience.
In 2018, the UKGC announced that they thought some online operators were treating players unfairly by requesting additional ID information when a player requested a withdrawal. The Commission noted that around 15% of casino complaints were about withdrawals being blocked until certain forms of ID were submitted.
Under the new rules, verification like this will have to be carried out before a player can register at an online casino. The new rules require remote casinos to:
- Verify 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 make a deposit, of the types of ID documents which may be required, in what circumstances additional information might be required, and how it should be supplied to the casino
- Take reasonable steps to ensure that player information is up to date and accurate
This all means that, whilst registering to a casino may take a little longer in the near future, withdrawals should become easier and quicker.
Moreover, the new measures aim to identify players who are attempting to gamble whilst self-excluded. Once the player supplies their ID information, this will be cross-checked against both the operators own self-exclusion database and the data held by GamStop, the national self-exclusion scheme.
Is This the End of Casino Welcome Bonuses?
The new measures may affect casino welcome bonuses, unfortunately. This is because, under the new rules, players will not be able to deposit or pick up bonuses until their identity is verified.
Whilst this shouldn't be a problem really – casinos can just credit bonuses once the verification process is complete – it could be that welcome bonuses are temporarily removed to give casinos the time to get used to the new measures.
Moreover, it also highlights the UKGC's attitudes towards free bonuses which are used to incentivise players to sign up to new sites.
Whilst we all love a welcome bonus, it is worth considering how damaging these bonuses can be for people who are trying to stop gambling, or who are underage.
Gambling operators have until May 7th to put these new rules into practice, and the UKGC will shortly be launching a guide for operators on the new rules.
This will explain how the rules should work and what they must be doing in order to adhere to them. All in all, the way we sign-up to casinos will be changing very soon, but hopefully for the better.