The UK watchdog has announced new rules regarding ID verification that will take effect on May 7th, 2019. The new rules have been published on the UKGC’s official website, reminding online operators to follow them to the point in order to make gambling fairer and safer. The new rules were introduced with the aim to make identification faster and safer, enabling operators to verify players’ identity details and age faster and make the whole process easier and safer for players. The New Changes So far, online gambling operators have been allowed 72 hours to carry out the necessary age verifications. Players were not allowed to withdraw their winnings until the age verification checks have been completed. Operators, on the other hand, were unable to permit them to withdraw their winnings and were required to return stakes if the checks showed that the player is underage. Therefore, to guard against the risk of underage players gambling, the new rules will require for the operator to verify players’ age even before the player can make deposits into an account and gamble with their own money, a bonus or a free bet. Additionally, the watchdog insists that players must be age-verified before they gain access to free-to-play gambling versions available on licensees’ websites. Even though these free play versions are not technically gambling, the UKGC finds no legitimate reason why the free-to-play games should be available to underage players in the first place. Following various complaints made by players based on requests for additional identity information upon withdrawals, in May 2018, the Commission announced that that treatment was unfair to customers. For that reason, the new rules require remote online gambling licensees to verify the name, date of birth and address of the player before allowing them to gamble for real money. In addition, they need to inform players before they make their deposits of the types of documents required for identification or other information that might be required, how it should be supplied to the operator and the circumstances in which that particular information might be required. Finally, the operators need to take reasonable steps to ensure that the players’ identity information stays accurate. The Impact of These Changes These changes are expected to help operators to better prevent gambling harm and detect criminal activities since they will have more information about their players. Additionally, these changes will make sure that players are treated fairly at the time of withdrawals and will not be asked additional ID verification when they want to cash out because all of the necessary information will be asked earlier. With the changes, operators won’t be able to demand from customers to submit IDs as a condition for withdrawals. In addition, the changes will improve the likelihood that players will be identified if they try to gamble while they’re on their self-exclusion period. This applies both to the online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme Gamstop and the operator’s own schemes. Thanks to the effective verification at the beginning made by operators, a player will not be verified and therefore unable to deposit and gamble until they provide the correct identification details which will then be checked against Gamstop and the operator’s own self-exclusion database. UK Gambling Commission’s Official Statement on the Matter The UKGC’s Chief Executive Neil McArthur said that these changes will protect the vulnerable from gambling-related harm and underage players and will reduce the risk of online gambling-linked crimes. In addition, these changes will make online gambling fairer by helping players cash out their winnings without unnecessary checks and delays. Considering Britain’s online gambling market is the largest regulated gambling market in the world, the UKGC wants to make sure it is also the fairest and the safest one. The new changes are the result of their review of online gambling and their ongoing regulatory action into the online gambling sector, so they are using their powers to raise standards for players. The Government’s Comments on the Rules The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright commented that these significant new changes mean online operators must check players’ age before they gamble and not after they have made their deposits, adding rightly an extra layer of protection for underage and young players who attempt to gamble online. Wright added that by extending stronger age verification rules to the free-to-play versions of games, they are creating a much safer online gaming environment for underage players, helping to exclude any possible gateway to gambling-related harm.