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Use of digital ID to protect problem and at-risk gamblers universally welcomed by the industry

The gambling industry has welcomed the use of digital ID to protect gamblers who have multiple accounts with different betting operators.

It follows a sector-wide consultation conducted by 1account, the digital ID specialist and provider of KYC and AML validation services for the gambling industry.  The consultation explored the benefits, opportunities and challenges of linking digital ID to a player’s betting accounts and activities across different operators to gain a consolidated view of their financial position including balances, transaction history and net gains or losses.

According to Gambling Commission research, the UK’s online gamblers have an average of three betting accounts, with younger gamblers likely to hold more than five.

Publication of the findings comes as a landmark inquest into the death of gambler Jack Ritchie, aged 24, hit the headlines and raised questions about the adequacy of warnings around the dangers of gambling. The case has reportedly accelerated the Gambling Commission’s drive to make gambling safer, such as increasing online age and ID verification.

The consultation took the form of face-to-face and detailed written briefings amongst online and offline gambling operators, industry regulators, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and providers of gambling support services.  

Key findings included:

  • 100% of respondents believe linking different betting accounts to show players’ overall net deposits would be beneficial for all gamblers with multiple accounts, particularly problem and at-risk gamblers
  • A clear majority of consultees believed there are benefits in matching the name on the user’s digital ID with the name held on the operator’s account before pairing the gambling account to provide greater identity assurance, if and when sharing player information between multiple operators
  • Respondents felt digital ID linked to multiple accounts would deliver invaluable insights into players’ behaviour. Those consulted felt that this could also deliver an enhanced understanding of affordability over time, which would provide additional KYC benefits
  • The majority of participants called for a feature that informed players of milestones, for example alerting them when they have reached a certain net deposit position. Different configuration options were also seen as beneficial to provide users with choice regarding how much information is made available to them and how much flexibility they have to moderate their own play
  • The need to tread carefully in terms of data sharing, for example, to ensure losing players were protected from being targeted
  • Additional features were also discussed, including salary and rental or mortgage costs that could be accessed from open banking-linked digital IDs as a means of enabling enhanced affordability checks

Ralph Topping, former CEO of William Hill, who is on 1account’s advisory board, said: “The gambling industry in the UK takes its responsibilities to customers extremely seriously, however they can only act on the information they themselves hold about a person’s activities. 

“Currently, some individual operators provide tools to allow a player to see their net deposit position – their deposits minus withdrawals – which is the financial position of their gambling activity. However, digital ID has the capability to tackle the challenge of players that use multiple accounts which can hide the true extent of a gambler’s financial position. Having access to a consolidated view of their balances, transaction history and ultimately their net gains or losses means such players can make more informed choices.

“Likewise, it allows licensed operators to make informed decisions in responsible player account management such as spend or deposit limits.

Topping added: “It’s clear to see that there’s a strong appetite for the use of digital ID in the gambling industry. It can protect regular, vulnerable or problem gamblers who hold player accounts across different operators both on and offline and also support operators in making responsible decisions on behalf of their customers.”

An estimated 24 million adults – 35% of the UK population – gamble, with around 10.5 million regularly betting online.