Regulations are tightening across different markets when it comes to operators’ responsibilities to prevent underage and problem gambling. Regulators hand out hefty fines and strip licenses if operators allow underage or self-excluded gamblers to play on their platform.
Effective and reliable identity verification is in everyone’s interest. It improves player security and creates a transparent landscape that reassures both players and operators. However, a challenge immediately presents itself: how can operators verify players’ identities while keeping the onboarding process as short as possible? Below, Slotegrator offers a look at some of the most popular and effective techniques that operators use to accelerate identity verification.
Government-issued IDs, bills, and bank statements are used to verify identities. These can be checked against various databases. Manual reviews of identity documents are lengthy and bring the possibility of human error, two problems which are solved by the same solution: AI. Artificial Intelligence can perform the requisite checks faster and more accurately than manual reviews can. Furthermore, some operators are moving towards using AI for detecting problem gambling behavior.
While some regulators are wary of the ability of mobile technology to provide accurate biometrics-based identity verification, the combination of AI with biometric technology can give a more complete picture of a player’s identity.
For example, requesting players to take a selfie with their government-issued ID can allow operators to verify that the player registering the account is in fact who they say they are. This is a valuable tool, considering that underage gamblers could potentially get their hands on their parent’s details, and rates of stolen identities are rising in some countries.
This may not be the first solution that springs to mind, but the utility of geolocation becomes apparent when it comes to companies that operate across borders. For example, in the European market, Dutch operators are (at the moment) prohibited from providing gambling services to Dutch citizens. Dutch platforms can accept players from other countries, but if they allow Dutch gamblers to play, mistakenly or otherwise, operators are forced to pay massive fines - which has happened several times.
This is where geolocation can come in useful, allowing operators to verify that a player resides in the correct jurisdiction. It can also be used in combination with the proof of address that players provide during the onboarding process. Geolocation technology has even developed to take into account factors like VPNs and proxy servers.
Checks and Databases
According to the UK’s public sector information website gov.uk, an identity check should have five components:
- Obtain evidence of the claimed identity
- Evaluate the validity of the evidence
- Check if the identity has existed over an extended period of time
- Check if the identity is at risk of fraud
- Check that the identity belongs to the person who’s claimed it
A passport, driver’s license, or other official documentation that contains the person’s name, address, and date of birth can all be considered evidence of identity. The validity of the evidence can be checked against source such as a government database, and evidence of consistent payments and other bank activity can be used to make sure the identity hasn’t been stolen from a deceased person. Identities that have been reported as stolen, for example, are considered as being at risk of fraud. Asking the player for information that only that person would know and making sure they match the photo on their ID would both count as checking that the identity belongs to the person who’s claimed it.
The information and documents presented by the individual can be compared against various private and public databases, such as credit rating agencies and law enforcement agencies.
Many countries have national ID databases or government organizations whose task is to verify identity documents. As it is often the case that only the authorities have access to the database, it’s necessary to use a third-party service to carry out the check, which can be expensive. There are several companies certified by the UK government to carry out ID verification.
The UK has a problem gambling initiative that could provide a model for other regulated jurisdictions. Gamstop is a free service for gamblers who need to self-exclude. Players who think they have a problem can register at a single point and be excluded from online casinos that are licensed in the UK. Once all operators have signed up with Gamstop, a player who registers as self-excluded will be unable to play on any online casino with a UK license.
What Players Want and Need
Long onboarding processes can drive players away almost immediately. Players expect short, simple, smooth onboarding, and if they’re denied that, they’ll jump to a platform that can provide it; extended onboarding processes have a nasty habit of increasing player churn. It is of the utmost importance that the process takes as few clicks as possible. When designing their website, many operators even include a feature that shows the player how long the onboarding process is and their current status in it. Furthermore, the industry is coming to a stage where players will soon expect a single onboarding process for multiple brands. If that does happen, operators that aren’t a part of it will likely see registration rates plummet.
Stakes are high for online casino operators. Letting underage or self-excluded gamblers slip through the cracks can result in massive fines. The identity verification techniques outlined above are fast becoming the standard, eclipsing previous manual review processes. As regulators become accustomed to the technology, these tools could easily wind up being required - and in some jurisdictions, this is already becoming the case.