The identity verification requirements that regulators set for gambling operators depend on the market. The strictest regulations are in the UK and Europe, and regulators in other markets tend to follow the UK’s lead, but different markets have different know your customer (KYC) requirements.
However, in all markets, operators face difficulties when it comes to identity verification, especially in markets with fragmented databases like in Africa and India. Also, these identity verification checks are sometimes ineffective.
Governments across the world are introducing new identity verification regulations. As regulations get stricter, the process of onboarding new players gets more difficult for operators. Having to wait through a lengthy verification process is sometimes reason enough for players to lose interest.
A growing number of companies are developing technologies to streamline the identity verification process to make it faster and more reliable. Here are some of the identity verification issues that could be resolved in the near future with advances in facial recognition, biometrics, and AI.
There are new rules for UK age verification aimed at preventing underage gambling. Operators will be required to verify the player’s age before the account can be opened. Previously, new players were allowed instant access to the site and the operator had 72 hours to confirm their identity. Age verification would only be completed when the player attempted to withdraw their winnings.
One way to verify someone’s age online is for operators to require new players to take a selfie with their government-issued ID. Once the ID is verified, their age is taken from the ID. However, fraudulent documents are possible to come by, especially with access to the darker corners of the internet, meaning it’s possible for underage players to get around regulations.
According to a recent survey carried out by the UK Gambling Commission:
- 36% of 11-16 year olds had spent their own money on gambling in the 12 months before the survey.
- 3% of 11 - 16 year olds had played National Lottery scratchcards and 2% had played the National Lottery main draw in the week before the survey.
- 4% of 11-16 year olds had played on fruit or slot machines in the week before the survey was carried out.
- 7% of 11-16 year olds had ever gambled online.
- 12% of 11-16 year olds had ever played an online gambling-style game.
The United Kingdom has a self-exclusion program for players who identify themselves as problem gamblers. Gambling platform operators with a UKGC license have significant responsibilities regarding identity verification for the purposes of self-exclusion. Problem gambling is considered a public health issue, and operators are required to do everything in their power to help gamblers who have self-excluded avoid gambling.
This is a bigger challenge than it sounds at first. For example, there is very little to stop a problem gambler who has self-excluded on one platform from simply opening an account on another platform. At the moment, there’s very little that operators can do to prevent that from happening. An identity verification check carried out with facial recognition and biometric data could reveal if a player had self-excluded from a different platform. AI could keep that process short.
According to a report from the UKGC:
- 6% of UK gamblers had ever self-excluded.
- 41% had not self-excluded but were aware that the option existed.
- 53% were not aware of the option of self-exclusion.
Fraud and other crimes
Unfortunately, fraudsters can take advantage of online casinos that have weak security systems. One common method is to create multiple accounts in order to exploit sign-up and welcome bonuses. For this reason, effective identity verification is as important to operators as it is to regulators. Also, identity verification plays an important role in combating money laundering, a significant issue in the gambling business.
Online gambling identity verification is a tricky issue. While social responsibility is of the utmost importance, it’s also crucial for online gambling platforms to provide a high-quality experience. That experience begins the moment players sign up. In today’s hyperconnected, fast-paced world, players expect onboarding to be fast, smooth, and easy - three ideas that don’t work especially well with lengthy and complicated identity verification processes.
Advances in facial recognition and biometrics are creating ways for online gambling business owners to run identity verification checks quickly and easily. A selfie, a photo of a government-issued ID, and a biometric check could save both the player and the operator numerous steps and lots of time by using AI instead of a lengthy manual review.
Solutions that take advantage of smartphones to gather biometric and facial recognition data provide the simplest and most effective way to deal with the identity verification challenges presented by the situations outlined above. Tying identity verification to facial recognition and biometric data and using AI to verify ID document legitimacy will streamline the process and make it more effective, creating a better situation for players, operators, and regulators.