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UK government says online age verification is effective

UK government says online age verification is effective

Online age verification in gambling has proven effective and there is limited evidence to suggest that further measures are needed to prevent minors from gambling online, according to a new UK government review of the country’s gambling regulation. Despite this, the white paper challenged the industry to improve age verification, particularly for in-person interactions in places such as pubs.

The white paper outlined a package of new measures to reduce harm from gambling and strengthen the protection of children and other vulnerable groups. The review was conducted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Gambling Commission with around 16,000 submissions from stakeholders.

Despite calls for stronger online age verification measures, the Gambling Commission data shows relatively low rates of illegal underage gambling with online operators, and when this does occur, it is generally through misuse of an adult’s account or details rather than a failure of the verification process.

“We’re delighted the white paper acknowledges that representatives of the gambling & pub sectors are building #ageverification into the gambling machines themselves to reduce the reliance on staff supervision,” says Robin Tombs, co-founder and CEO of Yoti, one of the companies that responded to the call of submissions. Yoti has received permission from the UK Gambling Commission for Yoti’s age verification checks, Tombs said on LinkedIn.

“We were pleased to see the UK Government and its regulator, The Gambling Commission, confirm the effectiveness of the online age verification our members supply to thousands of operators, demonstrating that a very high level of assurance can be achieved when that is required,” Age Verification Providers Association Executive Director Iain Corby told Biometric Update in an email. “Our members have also developed robust age estimation and digital proofs of age (held on smartphones) that are particularly useful for real-world gambling machines, which are often harder for busy staff to supervise as effectively.”

The UK requires all licensed operators to introduce age verification policies and procedures to prevent underage gambling. The Gambling Commission data suggests that at-risk and problem gambling rates among 11-to-16-year-olds have increased since 2014.

As for adults, one proposition of the review is to introduce new obligations on operators to check whether a customer’s gambling is harmful and share data on high-risk customers. While account verification is on the whole effective, there are difficulties in matching payment details to the account holder, the report states.

This post was updated at 1:23pm Eastern on May 3, 2023 to include the comment from the AVPA.

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