Ask this question just a few short years ago and we would confirm that you can bet without ID. In fact, opening a betting account was as easy as providing an email address. Nowadays, however, industry authorities have quite rightly introduced more security measures.
Can you bet in the UK without ID? Yes. Online? Not really. Today, we’re going to investigate why ID checks are important in the world of online betting, what they look for, how it generally works, the laws behind the process, and what you can do if your ID verification is rejected. Let’s take a look!
Before anything else, let’s answer the most pressing question of all. Why does ID verification exist? As mentioned in the introduction, it hasn’t always been a thing in the online betting world. Many players will remember opening an account with little more than their email address and a password.
Well, one of the biggest reasons why industry leaders have introduced ID checks is age verification. Traditionally, it was easy to prevent underage betting because those working in a betting shop would question customers based on appearance. If they thought somebody was under 18, they would ask for ID. Since the internet doesn’t have the initial step of checking appearance, it needs ID from the start.
Right across the UK, it’s illegal to provide betting services to people under the age of 18. Recently, underage gambling has become a huge problem as it grows in popularity among younger sports fans. Especially with markets like eSports, these are typically younger audiences, and they see older fans betting on such events.
At this point, we should add that this isn’t an optional measure from the betting platforms. Instead, they’ve been forced to introduce this measure since it’s now a legal obligation from the UK Gambling Commission. If a betting platform doesn’t have an ID verification system in place, the UK Gambling Commission can take their license away.
Another reason why ID verification is so important in the world of online betting is that money laundering has grown in prominence. While it’s inconceivable to imagine when all you want to do is bet on Manchester United to win the league after Ronaldo has joined, many unethical characters use betting to wager so-called ‘dirty’ money. As it comes out the other side, it’s then considered clean.
Generally speaking, these criminals will choose games or markets aiming for a pay-out of around 90%. They might lose 10% of their funds, but this is a small price to pay to convert their dirty money into clean money.
At this point, we should say that ID verification varies from one platform to the next. Also, websites have the right to ask for additional checks. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that the website has flagged you and your account as a money-laundering account. Instead, it could be that you’ve been selected at random.
Alternatively, the operator may have struggled to glean important details from your background check, or you could even have a similar name to somebody who has been flagged for money laundering. Assuming you have a clean history on betting websites, you don’t have anything to worry about.
In addition to money laundering, ID verification is also important to stop fraud in the industry. Once again, a betting website will ask for more information if they believe that a banking method doesn’t belong to you. For example, the website may notice that the account is registered to a different address to your name.
If you’ve spent many years only depositing small amounts into your account, a large deposit will be considered out of character and could be another reason why a website asks for further verification.
What if the betting website performs its checks and suspects criminal activity? The website will refuse to pay on existing bets while suspending the account. If you’re innocent, you will have opportunities to provide further information and appeal the decision. Until the complaint is resolved, any disputed funds are held.
If you’re interested in the legal aspect of the betting industry, the Gambling Act of 2005 was the catalyst for change in the online betting world. With very few restrictions at the time, people and criminals would abuse the system. Fraud and money laundering were common, as were underage gamblers.
Suddenly, unlicensed online bookmakers were banned. Furthermore, all licensed bookmakers had new responsibilities:
The UK Gambling Commission decided that ID checks would be a simple way to remove many of the problems that existed with online gambling. In 2014, the law was updated again and now applies to companies based outside of the UK too.
With all of this in mind, your next question is likely to regard the types of ID you need to open a betting account online. In truth, the requirements can differ from one betting platform to the next. The requirement of betting platforms is to check ID, it doesn’t necessarily state how they can achieve this goal.
Betting websites generally ask for three things:
Proof of ID – This includes a passport, national ID card, driving license, or any other document with a picture, name, and other basic details.
Proof of Address – This could be a council tax bill, a bank statement, a utility bill, or something else that you have received within the last three months.
Payment ID – Finally, some people provide a recent statement for their account, or scan a picture of their bank card.
If these documents provide your name, the same address on each, a picture, and they’re all linked, this could be the end of the process. If the address on your documents matches the electoral roll, this is another tick in your favour. Further ID could be required in two scenarios; if you’re not a UK citizen (since you won’t be on the electoral roll) or if your address doesn’t match the one linked to your payment ID.
When creating an account, be aware that many platforms allow people to bet to their heart’s content. However, you won’t be able to withdraw until you’ve gone through all the security and ID measures.
In terms of the logistics of providing documentation, once again it’s important to pay attention to the advice of the platform itself. Most will accept colour scans sent to an email address, and others have provisions for traditional mail. When sending a picture of your bank card, cut a small piece of paper and place it over the CCV. Not only is it not required for ID verification, but it also prevents somebody from using your card should your email or traditional mail get intercepted.
Recently, some players have been concerned after seeing that betting companies can perform credit checks on players. More players are seeing this small clause in the terms and conditions of their accounts. The first thing to note is that betting websites don’t look at your credit score or report. Instead, the idea is to perform a ‘soft’ search.
What’s a soft search? Rather than looking at your credit rating, a soft search is an identification search. In other words, it won’t affect your credit score or report in any way. Others performing a credit check won’t see this check from the betting website and only you will see the check on your chosen credit reference agency.
If you hear this phrase used with regards to ID verification, it simply describes the requirement of all betting websites to identify all customers. In many cases, a soft search credit check provides all the basic information about you and satisfies the KYC requirements. However, this isn’t to say that you won’t have to provide more documentation when it comes to withdrawal time.
What if you complete all the required steps and then your verification is refused? The good news is that betting websites shouldn’t have a problem if you’re a resident in the UK, use your own funds, and are old enough to have an account. The bad news is that, like all private businesses, betting companies have the right to refuse service to anybody.
If you haven’t yet wagered any money, cut your losses, and try another platform. If you’ve wagered and won money, it might be that you’ve hit a threshold and need to provide extra ID. If you’re still having problems, contact the IBAS and the UK Gambling Commission for advice. They may advise making a formal complaint.
Elsewhere, another concern that some players have is that their chosen website didn’t do enough of a check. Although it sounds strange, it makes you feel a little uneasy when you hear of stringent checks elsewhere even though you seem to breeze through the process. Don’t worry, it might be that the website got everything it needed from the early registration details.
Alternatively, it might be as we mentioned earlier – further checks will come when you try to withdraw for the first time. Meanwhile, others ask for further identification checks once you hit their withdrawal threshold – this can be £500, £1,000, or even £2,000.
Thirdly, to cover all eventualities, you may be on an unlicensed betting site. While the lack of verification may seem great (lots of hassle saved!), these websites are illegal and, as a result, you aren’t protected when the worst happens…and it normally does. Even if they closed your account instantly and took your funds, there’s nothing you could do because the website wasn’t licensed in the first place.
Before signing up to a betting website, scroll to the bottom of the homepage and check their licensing information. Every platform you see on our website is licensed to operate in the UK.
This begs the question – how do you bet without identification? If you want to bet online, you don’t have much choice (sorry). The ID verification processes exist to rid the betting world of underage gambling, fraud, and money laundering. Thankfully, you should only need to go through this process once. While it may seem frustrating, keep this in mind because soon you’ll have forgotten all about it.
On the other hand, you can avoid the ordeal by betting in the traditional way. If you want to remain as anonymous as possible, head to your nearest bookmaker. Most towns in the UK have at least one physical bookmaker.
As long as you don’t look suspicious in the store, they will take your bets without question. You don’t have to supply ID, you can pay in cash, and you’ll remain anonymous from start to finish. Like buying a drink in a pub or even a supermarket, you may be asked for ID if the worker thinks that you look under 25 (due to the Challenge 25 scheme). This being said, they shouldn’t scan this ID or do anything other than check your picture and age.
If you’re intent on betting online, there are certain things you can do to remain as anonymous as possible. For instance, use paysafecard or a similar banking method. You’ll still need to meet certain verification requirements, but you’ll pay with cash and bet without a bank account in the long term.
Also, pay attention to the new Plus Card options from betting websites. You can top up the card with cash and then use this to bet both in-store and online. Again, you’ll need to pass through some verification stages, but you won’t have to bet with bank cards.
While it might seem invasive at the time, betting platforms have introduced verification procedures to prevent underage gambling, money laundering, and fraud. Once you’re through these steps, you’re free to bet and enjoy your experience. If you want to bet without ID, follow the advice above to remain as anonymous as possible!