If you were to buy a car or want to take out a mortgage, you’d completely understand why the car dealer or bank you were dealing with would want to carry out credit checks and affordability checks. Similarly, if you were to enter a caravan showroom with a bag full of cash, you wouldn’t be overly surprised if the owners asked you where you’d got it from. Yet the idea of being asked either when you just want to bet on the horses might seem strange.
In reality, though, it’s a perfectly reasonable and, indeed, socially responsible thing for a betting company to ask. This is because they have to be wary of people attempting to use gambling as a means of laundering money or committing some other form of crime. Being able to prove where your money has come stops that, whilst showing that you can afford to lose what you want to gamble can stop problem gambling developing.
Let’s be honest, the world is full of less than reputable people and some companies out there would happily take money from you without knowing where it came from. Sure, there’s a chance they could be handling stolen or drug money, but as long as they make their profit from it what does it matter? The answer, of course, is that it matters a great deal and you should do your best to only work with socially responsible companies.
That’s why the United Kingdom Gambling Commission refuses to issue a gambling licence to any company that won’t sign up to its rules and regulations. Among these, the ability to prove where a customer’s funds have come from is high on the list. To use the UKGC’s own language, they ask all gambling companies to ‘know their customers inside out’, which is important to offer betting that is ‘fair, safe and free of crime’.
The predominant aims of gambling companies is to both keep crime out of the industry and to ensure that customers do not get into any financial difficulties. When companies fail to do as much, the Gambling Commission will issue them with fines, sometimes adding licensing requirements that they must meet in addition to the standard ones. Failing that, it’s not unheard of for companies to have their licence suspended.
What Companies Might Ask For
In order to meet the UKGC’s requirements, gambling companies can ask you for numerous things to identify whether you’re likely to be a problem gambler or not. They are able to go through third parties in order to obtain bank statements, which aid them in assessing whether or not the source of your funds is legitimate. This is a key part of the ant-money laundering checks that companies have to carry out.
The other thing that companies can do is to carry out income pattern checks. Something like a pending house sale can explain strange income patterns, but if there isn’t anything there then that can be flagged up to them for further investigation. Appropriate deposit and loss thresholds will also be explored, essentially to ensure that you’ve got your gambling under control and to assess affordability.
Another key part of a reliable company’s decision making comes in the form of identification verification. When you open an account, a betting site needs to make sure that you are who you say you are. They do this in order to make sure that you’re old enough to gamble and to check whether or not you have decided to self-exclude from being able to gamble.
Sometimes the information that gambling companies are able to check from your initial sign up might not be enough, so they’ll need to carry out additional checks. Usually this will be because of something you didn’t realise, such as your address being spelt incorrectly or you sharing an address with someone with a similar name. At this point, the gambling company will likely ask you for something such a driving licence or passport.
It is against the law for criminals to spend money that they’ve gained through ill-gotten means. In order to avoid being caught, the criminals will attempt to ‘launder’ their money and make it clean. A really simple way of doing this is by using gambling companies, betting on things with Evens or better odds and getting ‘clean’ money back in exchange for the ‘dirty’ money that was bet with in the first place.
It is up to each gambling company to decide whether a punter will be allowed more than one account to be held with them, but if they are then said company must be able to identify the various accounts. This can be used both to ensure that there is no money laundering going on but also to stop a customer from taking advantage of things such as free bet offers, which are typically limited to one per customer.
You might find that your account is frozen whilst a company investigates whether you are who you say you are. They are able to freeze your account for as long as is necessary for them to do their checks. Companies aren’t allowed to ask you for proof of who you are when you’re withdrawing funds, as long as they have had a fair amount of time to do so before. The only exception to this is if they need to to meet a legal obligation.
There are numerous requirements of their licence that gambling companies must meet, with each one being put to them for specific reasons. Perhaps the key one of these from a social responsibility point of view is affordability checks. Whether it be preventing young people from gambling, stopping the most vulnerable from having an account or stopping customers from losing more than they can afford, betting companies have obligations.
Spending more than you can afford to lose is seen by many as a sign that you’re opening yourself up to suffering from gambling related harm. It is also seen as a harmful thing for people to spend all of their discretionary income on gambling regularly. It’s why companies exist that have the specific job of doing affordability checks on customers, reporting back to the gambling sites accordingly.