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Stronger consumer protections proposed for remote gambling

Online gambling companies would have to verify the ages and identities of their customers before allowing them to deposit funds or place bets under proposals put forward by the UK's Gambling Commission.06 Sep 2018

Currently, operators have 72 hours to carry out the necessary age verification checks, during which customers are permitted to deposit funds and place bets but not withdraw any winnings. If it turns out that the customer is underage, the operator must return the customer's initial stake.

The Commission has proposed making changes to its licence conditions which would require operators to complete age verification checks before allowing customers to deposit money, place bets or access play-for-free versions of gambling games. They would also be required to verify the customer's identity, including name, address, date of birth and email address, and that the name associated with the customer's payment method matches the name on the account.

The changes have been proposed as a way of further protecting children and to keep gambling fair and safe, according to the Commission. It is consulting on its proposals until 27 November 2018.

"Our aim is to protect children, reduce gambling-related harm and keep gambling fair and crime-free," said Brad Enright, programme director at the Gambling Commission. "We would encourage anyone with an interest in gambling matters to read our consultation and ensure they have their say on these proposals."

A new version of the Gambling Commission's Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice comes into force on 31 October 2018. The changes tie compliance with UK advertising rules, privacy regulations and consumer protection laws to the regulator's licensing framework for the first time, and raises the prospect that cases of non-compliance with those rules will lead to regulatory fines from the Commission or even the revocation of operating licences in the most serious cases.

"This consultation is a further push by the Gambling Commission in their drive to protect consumers," said gambling law expert Christopher Rees-Gay of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com. "It is focused on remote gaming and betting operator licence holders, and would have a real impact on operators should these measures be adopted."