Just how easy is it for under-18s to gamble?
A blog post by Nigel Clark, General Manager for electronic identity verification at GBG.
In an experimental mood some 12 months ago, I decided to open a new gambling account with a UK high street operator*. The account was for my 15 year old son, let’s call him Dave. I was attempting to open it, not because I am desperate for Dave to get on the ‘gambling ladder’, but because I wanted to see how easy it would be for him to open one. Everything went well – Dave’s alter ego even used my credit card, which had been left in the kitchen.
He used his own email address as well as all his own details, and even a made-up DOB that was just enough to make him 18. All the notifications during registration were positive. Dave went on to place a bet. And...he won!
Dave, rather excitedly - by proxy - went to take his winnings out. ‘Uhh aww’ no way Dave - you need to pass a few more tests before we give the money out that easily. The painful submission of Driving Licence details – even though Dave did his very best to make them look real - resulted in a notification to Dave that he’d have to jump through yet more hoops. He gave up.
So, despite the initial acceptance and joy, the company did remarkably well to stop Dave in his tracks - they must of course have had electronic identity verification in place.
But, here’s the rub: even now, 12 months on, Dave is getting three emails or more a week from the same company; offering him special deals, offering last minute football bets, introductory offers etc. Dave is now doubly miserable because he has a win he can’t claim, and he knows that even if he had another bet it wouldn’t get paid out.
The emails and marketing should have stopped surely? Whilst undoubtedly making Dave very excited for his gambling prospects in two years hence, should he really be getting them now, when the company in question clearly knows or must suspect he’s under 18?
All the more reason to implement checks from the point of registration eh? Plus you have the added benefit of building a fuller picture of players from the outset - staying ahead of the game when it comes to social responsibility, and reaping dividends in terms of successful marketing and player engagement.
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*It wouldn’t be fair to say who they are, as they are not alone in this loophole in their internal system. It's endemic; Dave is living proof of that.