The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) recently unveiled new regulations with the goal of making sure consumers are given better options by online gaming operators for ways to review their own gambling activity.

The requirements that online operators will need to have in place by April 1st, 2018 are:

•    ensure consumers are able to directly access 3 months’ worth of account and gambling information, with a minimum period of 12 months available on request
•    ensure account and gambling history provides easy to understand totals for a defined period (for example, the ability to be able to view transaction history for the previous two months)
•    give consumers access to information about their net deposits (ie the running total of all deposits minus the sum of all withdrawals)
•    allow consumers to set financial limits across their entire gambling account as well as individual games.

UKGC program director Sharon McNair said in a press release:

The findings of our recent consultation indicate that there are differences in approach amongst licensees in relation to the level of information available to their consumers and the ease by which that information is accessible. The new requirements seek to address this and ensure greater consistency in the information available to consumers regardless of who they choose to gamble with.

Gambling operators must see beyond the bottom line, and ensure both new and existing gambling products are effectively managing the risks to the licensing objectives, keeping gambling safe and fair for all.

Being able to check account information with great detail is fantastic, but players still need to be able to get to their funds. A week prior to the announcement of the new regulations, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened an investigation into alleged practices by some online gambling operators that could serve to prevent players from withdrawing funds from their accounts.

The practices have to do with “know your customer” (KYC) rules, in which operators are required to verify player identities to prevent things like fraud and money laundering. The problem, though, is that some operators are allegedly being way too restrictive with the implementation of these checks, resulting in in customers being unable to cash out.

UKGC chief executive Sarah Harrison said:

Identity checks are an important duty on the industry to prevent money laundering and to ensure responsible gambling. Where operators haven’t met those obligations, we have taken clear action.

However, those checks cannot be used as an excuse to unduly restrict legitimate customers from withdrawing their funds. If the CMA finds specific consumer protection failings in this area, it will add further cause for the Commission to review how fairly operators are treating consumers.

It can be a fine line between asking for too much identity verification and too little. On June 21st, the Gambling Commission warned operators that it could take disciplinary action for “not effectively managing money laundering and social responsibility risks, or acting in a fair and open manner.”

The Commission noted that it has found that some operators only ask for identification from customers when it is time to cash out, which not only means that they aren’t taking necessary KYC steps early and at the same time could be frustrating customers with unforeseen inconvenience when all they want is their money.

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