The new UK rules on age and identity verification procedures for online operators have come into force today, posing an issue for affiliates who attract customers via free-to-play mechanisms.
These new rules follow an open consultation and aim to ensure operators verify customers’ age and identity details quickly and robustly. The changes to Gambling Commission’s Licence Conditions & Codes of Practice (LCCP) will affect remote betting and gaming operators, and some remote lotteries.
The changes also apply to games that are offering a gambling-like experience even though no money is necessary to be wagered – such as free-to-play mechanisms which allow consumers to get to know a game before investing any money.
It will also affect most affiliates indirectly, given that the additional safeguards and checks that have to be implemented before gambling are likely to see conversion rates drop.
All affected operators are expected to comply with the new LCCP immediately. This means that from today if an operator has not yet verified the name, address and date of birth of any customer, they will need to have completed verification before allowing that customer to gamble. Operators will therefore need to prevent any unverified customer from gambling until they have gone through the verification process.
Operators should also remember that they cannot confiscate a customer’s funds on the basis that they have not provided ID in time for this deadline. Last year the Competitions and Markets Authority’s action in the remote sector established that consumers are legally entitled to money which they have deposited in their account, to winnings made with money they have deposited and gambled, and winnings made from a bonus where the relevant conditions have been met (subject to AML or other regulatory requirements).