The UKGC is making life difficult again
When someone is having an impressive performance for years in a row, people will pay attention. When that is a gambling industry, and the growth is exceeding £6bn GGY, regulators and commissions will like to take part of this big cake. As the industry continues to grow, new legislation and compliance rules are constantly changed, and new ones are being regularly introduced.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) believes the time for the iGaming sector to re-work decades-old regulations and give them some critical updates is greatly needed. With current technology at hand, making the industry safer and fairer for everyone should be a great priority. The UKGC and Neil McArthur as its head are eager to show to everyone in a gambling business that must understand and respect its policies and procedures, as well as take responsibility for properly applying them.
Progress or Pure Pain?
The eagerness to put a whole industry into a straight line has already had its consequences. Online casinos and review sites like 777 Casino and their senior management have been the target of a widespread action from gambling regulators as part of what is known as an ongoing investigation, and all about how the industry is dealing with problem gambling and money laundering. Close to £14m in penalty packages are to be paid by three companies as a result of their shortcomings to put in place effective safeguards against money laundering and keep consumers safe from gambling-related harm. On another note, after a series of license reviews, the Commission ordered Daub Alderney to pay a financial penalty of £7.1m, while Casumo to pay a financial penalty of £5.85m. Video slots will also pay £1m in lieu of a financial penalty.
But that is not all. CZ Holdings is another company that will not be able to provide gambling services in the UK. They had to surrender its license after a license review, a destiny which additional 15 companies might expect. The regulatory action got even some individuals. Three Personal Licence holders (PML) had to surrender their licenses, four have been issued a warning while two received an Advice as to Conduct notices. On top of it, three more individuals with PMLs are still under investigation.
So how far will the pressure go?
According to the UKGC announcement, the primary objectives towards implementing these rules are preventing underage gambling, improvement and regulation of age, and identity checks, as well as improvement of the overall customer experience.
The new regulation requires operators to verify the customer age before they start to gamble (including free to play bets), or before any funds can be deposited into an account. After May 7, 2019, anyone not following this rule can bear consequences. As such, gambling operators are forced to verify the identity of the customers and users they have within their premises.
This new rule will replace the already existing one, which was giving operators at least 72h to complete age verification, but more importantly, it gave the ability to place bets and/or make deposits during that said time frame.
On the surface, it might look safe and logical why this change takes place. After all, many anti-gambling campaigners have suggested that a stricter ID verification process would be an assistance to problem gamblers. However, it doesn’t change the fact that some are concerned about the regulatory body’s next move. For instance, the move to verify every player’s age before taking an online gambling’s product for a spin, even if it is deemed free to play.
The No-escaping Outcome
Increased operational costs, initial friction, and the possibility of customer drop off are just a few of the outcomes that follow the action of this nature. Users that are prevented from playing until the appropriate age will create a barrier. But, the UKGC believes that once they understand why these checks exist in the first place, the trust towards operators should increase. In addition, a great portion of complaints come from valid consumers that are not able to claim large winnings due to faults with the current age or identity verifications. So, improving these procedures would benefit both parties in the end.
However, customer drop-off is a valid concern because not all want to share their personal information or go through rounds of identity verification checks. But, Following UKGC, operators are told once they have the risk score, they can set thresholds for accepting or rejecting customers. Overall, this saves operators money by adding another layer of protection. Bottom line, operators must review the full UKGC guidance before any of them work after the deadline, assuring them they meet all requirements.