Are Online Casinos Safe? UK wants more Player Protections

UK taking safe online casinos to new level with pre-play age verification and affordability checks.

UK promotes Safe Online Casinos for allIn terms of security, the regulated iGaming industry is as safe as any online space can be. But what about player protections? Are online casinos doing everything they can to protect minors and problem gamblers from harm? The UK Gambling Commission doesn’t think so.

If you’re a responsible gambler of legal age, and you only deposit with reputable casino websites, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If you’re a minor committing identity fraud, or using a false date of birth to register an account, your underage venture may soon come to an end. The same goes for problem gamblers who wager with money they clearly can’t afford, or worse, gamble with stolen funds.

The UKGC has spent months asking, “Are online casinos safe for players?” A long-awaited review of gambling was just released, and regulators are bound and determined to make sure the answer to that question will soon be a resounding ‘Yes!‘.

Pre-Play Verification to Ensure Safe Online Casinos for All

The registration process for all UK-licneced online casinos may soon get a lot more strict. If the recommendations in the review come to pass, no longer will players be able to sign-up an account, deposit, and play games for real money in a matter of minutes. One of the primary suggestions in the review is to impose pre-play age verification.

According to existing regulations, online casino operators must verify age within 72 hours of registration. However, there’s nothing in place to stop a minor from wagering during that three day period. The review calls for eliminating the 72 hour requisite, and replacing it with an immediate age verification process.

Until the user’s age is verified, they would not be permitted to gamble for real money. It’s also been suggested that free-play demo gaming be restricted prior to verification, so as to thwart the encouragement of underage gambling.

The UKGC understands that pre-play age verification is going to slow down the sign-up process. They will look into ways to considerably speed up the process to well below the standard 72 hour window.

Deposit & Stake Limits Pending Affordability Checks

In order to optimize protections for problem gamblers and prevent gambling with stolen funds, the UKGC is also looking to implement stronger customer due diligence. These may include deposit limits and stakes limits for all players, pending additional identity verification and affordability checks.

Traditionally, an online casino won’t perform a thorough ID verification until a player attempts to withdrawal winnings. Affordability checks are only performed if a player is wagering large amounts, or a substantial amount of money over time.

The review calls for enforcement of earlier due diligence, as well as limiting the amount a player can deposit and/or stake pending confirmation of their financial situation. The UKGC did not specify what these limits might be, only to state that operators should “set limits on players’ spending which could only be increased” once their identity was verified, and an “affordability check” performed.

As for limiting stakes, this is one area that could effect both land-based and online casino venues, without exception. The UK has long argued that max stakes for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) be reduced. The general consensus among many supporters has been that a £2 stake would be appropriate. Analysts believe Culture Secretary Matthew Hancock to be a supporter of that £2 rate.

The UKGC’s review calls for a universal (online and on land) max stake of “£30 or less”. However, it’s Mr. Hancock that will have the ultimate say. That means a reduction in maximum stake of anywhere from £2 to £30, with the lower end being probable. While many agree this would create a safe online casino environment for everyone, high rollers may get the short end of the stick in this department.

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