Changes to UK’s Online Gambling Regulations

New rules mean that credit cards are to be banned for gambling use from April, and customer verification strategies will be stricter from May 2020.

online gambler

March 23, 2020

The latest gambling statistics show that there are approximately 24 million people taking part in gambling in the UK, with 10.5 million of those people doing so online, according to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

Whether betting in the sports industry or online casino sector, gambling has become a very popular way of making a bit of extra cash in recent years. And while many online gamblers do it to have a ‘bit of fun’, it isn’t such a light activity for those who have become addicted or experienced other gambling-related harm. 

The number of children who have been found to be regularly participating in online gambling has also increased in recent years, meaning that younger people are also at risk of being ‘harmed’ by the world of gambling, despite it being illegal to those under the age of 18. 

In 2020, new rules are being introduced by the Gambling Commission to tighten regulations online, as a way of making the gambling sector safer, fairer and ‘more transparent and risk-free’ for customers.

All changes will apply to both new and existing customers, but what exactly are they?

Law changes - Stricter ID verification

New rules mean that a customer’s age must be verified before they can: 

  • Gamble with their own money or use a free bet/bonus 
  • Transfer any funds into their account

Children have illegally become involved in sports betting in recent years, and as a consequence, many have been affected by ‘problem gambling’ in some way, similarly to adults.

To protect against this, many online betting operators have made their ID verification process slightly stricter, which may, however, have an effect on the people who are entitled to gamble and want to do so freely and safely. 

In March 2018, it was announced that certain online gambling operators were unfairly demanding more forms of identification from customers when they tried withdrawing winnings, so new rules are being set to enforce a better, more efficient and accurate way of asking for customer verification. 

Online, licensed gambling companies must abide by the following rules: 

  • The minimum verification required is: name, address, and date of birth.
  • If additional verification is required, the licensed operator must ask for it promptly. 
  • Customers must be told about any required ID documents before being able to deposit funds. Additionally, they must also be informed about the types of situations in which these forms of ID might need to be shown, as well as how it should be passed onto the licensee. 
  • Gambling operators must ensure that any customer's information is accurate. 

Additionally, online gambling businesses previously had 72 hours to verify the details provided by potential customers online, but changes mean that details will have to be verified more efficiently - which will subsequently benefit customers. 

People now also have to confirm their ID and age every time they sign up or log in an online gambling or sports betting site. 

Customers are not allowed to withdraw any of their winnings until their age has been verified - stakes will be returned if it comes to light that the person gambling is under-age. 

The Commission has also insisted that age verification must occur before customers can have access to any free-to-play versions of gambling games on licensees’ websites, despite there being no prize to win. 

These changes are due to come into effect on 7th May, with the aim of making online gambling safer for children and eligible adults, making sure that younger and vulnerable people don’t have access. 

Credit card payments are no longer allowed

Another major change that’s taking place in the online gambling industry is that people will no longer be able to use their credit cards as a form of payment when gambling online. This will be stopped from 14th April. 

The Gambling Commission reports that in 2018, 800,000 people used a credit card for gambling, also stating that 22% of online gamblers who use credit cards are classed as ‘problem gamblers’. This is mainly because they get into thousands of pounds worth of debt by using money that isn’t theirs, and many can do so because they have high credit card availability. 

Gambling Commission Chief Executive, Neil McArthur has said that “we realise that this change will inconvenience those consumers who use credit cards responsibly but we are satisfied that reducing the risk of harm to other consumers means that action must be taken”. He further stated that the changes have been made “to ensure consumers only gamble with money they can afford to spend”. 

Paying via PayPal

PayPal have recently emailed their customers to let them know about the credit card payment change in the UK's online gambling rules, stating that it is no longer possible to pay gambling websites via a credit card in a PayPal wallet. 

If you gamble online and wish to pay via your PayPal account, you will need to add another bank account or debit card to be able to do so. 

These new changes will help licensed gambling operators continue to prevent criminal activity, children from creating accounts illegally and consumers getting into tremendous credit card debt, further encouraging people to gamble responsibly online. 

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