New Rules Set for UK’s Online Operators to Protect Consumers

Woman's hands protect child figures

30-second summary

  • New rules will come into effect on May 7, 2019
  • Operators will have to verify the age of consumers before they can gamble
  • Measures are designed to protect children

Safer for children

The UK’s gambling regulator has issued new rules for online operators to make gambling safer and fairer for those who participate.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) made the announcement on its website yesterday. It noted that the introduction of the rules followed an open consultation. The new changes will come into force on May 7, 2019.

Under existing rules, online operators have up to 72 hours to verify a user’s age. The new rules will require that operators confirm the age and identity details of a potential user faster. It’s hoped that this will make it safer for children. On top of that, customers will be required to confirm and verify their ages before they can access free-to-play alternatives to gambling games.

The statement from UKGC said: “While free-to-play games are not technically gambling (there is no prize involved), there is no legitimate reason why they should be available to children.”

As noted by UKGC, the new rules state that online operators need to:

  • “verify, as a minimum, the name, address, and date of birth of a customer before allowing them to gamble;
  • “ask for any additional verification information promptly;
  • “inform customers, before they can deposit funds, of the types of identity documents or other information that might be required, the circumstances in which the information might be required, and how it should be supplied to the licensee; and
  • “take reasonable steps to ensure that information on their customers’ identities remains accurate.”

Neil McArthur, CEO of the Gambling Commission, said: “These changes will protect children and the vulnerable from gambling-related harm, and reduce the risk of crime linked to gambling. They will also make placing bets fairer by helping consumers collect their winnings without unnecessary delay.”

He went on to say that, because Britain’s gambling market is the largest regulated industry in the world, they want to ensure that it’s “the safest and the fairest.”

Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media, and sport, said: “[The rules] rightly add an extra layer of protection for children and young people who attempt to gamble online. By extending strong age verification rules to free-to-play games, we are creating a much safer online environment for children, helping to shut down a possible gateway to gambling-related harm.”

Protecting consumers

The UK’s gambling regulator is taking these steps to ensure that consumers are better protected from gambling.

In March of last year, the UKGC announced that it was going to introduce measures designed to stop underage visitors from placing bets on play-money sites. At the time, it was noted that the UKGC’s proposals included a ban on operators who allow customers to play free-to-play demo games before signing up and providing their age.

The gambling regulator was also continuing its investigation into whether the use of credit cards should be banned.

Fast-forward to last August, when it was reported that the UKGC was announcing new rules to better protect consumers. The new changes were noted as going into effect by October 31. The changes are designed to help deliver a more secure gambling environment for consumers. Some of the rules covered advertising, as well as an eight-week deadline for operators to resolve complaints by.