It’s common for safe and secure online casinos to verify the identity of their players at some stage. Part of the reason for this is to protect the players, but verification is also there to help casinos avoid problems such as money laundering, multiple player accounts, and other scams/potentially harmful activity.
Verifying player identities
The strongest gambling licensing bodies all require casinos to verify player identities and complete KYC checks if they want to operate within their jurisdiction. The stage at which this takes place, however, can differ between regions and authorities.
In the UK, for example, the Gambling Commission announced that, as of 7th May 2019, all of their licensed casinos must verify the name, address, and date of birth of every new player before any gambling activity can take place. This even prevents no deposit bonuses or other offers being used until this initial check is complete.
KYC is started by using information that the player submits in the sign-up form when creating an account. The personal details can be matched with data from a variety of different databases to confirm the player’s identity. This is often done via the services of third-party processors.
However, it’s not guaranteed that this automated verification process will work every time. Some possible failures are if the player has recently changed address, if any information has been spelled incorrectly, or if people with similar names live at the same property. If that’s the case, casinos may ask for copies of documents to identify the player.
Online casino verification documents
The most common documents that help casinos to complete these initial KYC checks are passports, driving licenses, national identity cards, and household bills. A dedicated team can then compare the information with the sign-up form manually.
However, it’s common for additional verification to be requested thereafter. For example, the payment method that the player uses may need to be authenticated – which can mean requesting a copy of a bank statement, a front and back photocopy of a credit/debit card, a screenshot of an e-wallet account, or something similar.
For the UK specifically, the Gambling Commission’s License Condition 17 requires that “before permitting a customer to deposit funds, licensees should inform customers what types of identity documents or other information the licensee may need the customer to provide”. Moreover, if there is an identifiable risk of money laundering or another circumstance that’s found later, the player may be asked to provide evidence for their source of income. This often takes the form of recent payslips, a bank statement from the last three months, income tax returns, or another legitimate source.
With so much sensitive documentation potentially being handled, it is vital for online casinos to have strict security and privacy procedures in place. For starters, strong encryption needs to be deployed across the site to ensure that all file transfers are protected. The documents should then only be available for authorized members of staff to view. In the case of storage, all sensitive data must be kept on secure servers to protect against data loss or leaks. All of these measures must be clearly outlined in privacy and/or security policies.
In addition to this, it is recommended that online casinos train their customer service team specifically for account verification questions. If players need support or have questions about the process, agents will likely be their first point of call. It’s also useful to have a detailed breakdown of KYC procedures – plus how player data is securely and safely stored – in a Frequently Asked Questions section. Ideally, the wording will be jargon-free and as accessible as possible.
Pay N Play casinos
In some regions, such as Finland, Sweden, and Germany, it’s possible for players to use their online bank account to sign up and play. These are known as Pay N Play casinos, and they make registering a new account and verifying player details much more seamless, speedy, and efficient.
The way it works is simple:
Instead of filling in a sign-up form, players log in using their online banking system.
The casino is given KYC data directly from the bank handler.
This information can be used to verify the player’s identity almost instantly.
Once complete, the player’s account is automatically created based on the information.
Pay N Play casinos also have the added benefit of easier and fast transactions. Deposits are taken directly from the bank account and placed within the player’s casino account instantly. Withdrawals also require a lot less scrutiny thanks to the earlier KYC checks being completed, with the money being available very shortly after the player requests it.
At the time of writing, Pay N Play casinos are not available in the UK, where online casinos that accept PayPal are still very popular. While no verification can be done through this method, PayPal casinos are at least known to offer similarly speed transactions – with instant deposits and fast withdrawals that are available in a few hours, once approved.
Choose target markets wisely
When online casinos choose which countries and markets to operate in, player verification and KYC should be extremely important factors to consider. It is of utmost importance that the casino abides by the regulations of each body where it holds a license.
If a site does not have the capacity or capability to meet the standards expected by a specific authority, then that license should be skipped until the necessary improvements can be made. On this front, there is no grey area.