The online casino industry has changed massively over recent years. Regulation, legislation and certification are now at the core of igaming operations.
Both customers and regulators have increasingly high expectations when it comes to data protection, compliance and anti-money laundering.
KYC for casinos is at the heart of this process. In this article I’ll explain what it is, why it exists and how it works.
And, most importantly, what’s great about it for you as a gambler.
What Is ‘Know Your Customer’?
Know Your Customer (or KYC for short) is a process online casinos follow to check your identity, age, address and financial data.
KYC is also used in other industries (most notably finance).
However, for the purpose of this article, we’ll be discussing Know Your Customer as it relates to online gambling/casinos (like roulette).
Whilst it may sound scary, it’s really not. Read on and I’ll explain everything you need to know.
Why Is KYC Important In Online Gambling?
The aim of Know Your Customer for online casinos is to protect against fraud and keep the industry honest.
Gone are the days of shady online gambling sites. Nowadays sites are heavily regulated and certified by bodies like eCOGRA.
And because it keeps the industry honest, it protects you as an individual gambler. After all, you wouldn’t want someone using your ID and information fraudulently.
👉 KYC processes help protect the casino site and you.
The main things Know Your Customer focusses on are below. We’ll then take a look at each of these in more detail.
|Anti money-laundering||Prevent online casino deposits & withdrawals being used for money laundering schemes.|
|Prevent fraud||Ensure you are who you say you are|
Ensure you’re old enough to gamble.
|Self-exclusion monitoring||Ensure self-excluded people can’t gamble.|
Money laundering is where someone transfers money, often multiple times, to conceal where it came from. The ‘laundering’ means the money becoming ‘clean’ as it’s passed through various places.
Money laundering has three phases:
- Placement – Money gets into the financial system. This could be via a bank transfer, a cryptocurrency deposit, or a deposit to an online casino. Or it could be funnelling it through a company (like a shop) to make it look like normal transactions
- Layering – The money is moved around. Sometimes this can be quite lengthy and complex. Perhaps the money is being transferred through multiple people, companies and even countries
- Integration – The money now seems legit and can be used as it now has a source that is (on paper at least) legal.
If you watched the TV show ‘Power‘ for example, the character Tommy uses Tasha’s salon to launder his drug money. The drug money is put through as customer transactions. When the money is withdrawn from the bank, it’s then ‘clean’ as it looks like it came from a legitimate source.
Without doing so, Tommy would be stuck with large amounts of cash that would be impossible to account for.
👉 In New Zealand alone, an estimated $1.35 billion of money is laundered inside the country.
And worldwide, an estimated $2 trillion of money is laundered every year.
So money laundering is big business, but where do online casinos come into it? Well, there’s tons of ways it might work.
For example, let’s say I have $1000 from drug dealing (I don’t!). I deposit it to an online casino.
You also create an account there. We then play a game of heads-up (i.e. 1 on 1) poker.
I deliberately lose the game. You now have my $1000 which you can cash out and is ‘legit’.
Another way might be through illegal gambling sites. Let’s take my imagined $1000.
At an illegal gambling site that doesn’t do proper checks, and perhaps take cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, I could anonymously add funds there.
I could do that as a way of concealing money from authorities.
KYC and its various processes and checks, helps to prevent fraud. Often people assume this is just to prevent fraud of the site itself.
That could be via abusing bonuses, money laundering or multi-accounts.
That is certainly an aim – however something more important to players like us is protecting your data and finances.
KYC checks help minimise the risk of people fraudulently and/or maliciously using your data for their own gain.
Self Exclusion Monitoring
‘Self exclusions’ is where you (voluntarily) ask casinos and gambling sites to stop letting you gamble there.
This is normally done if you feel you have problems with gambling and want to restrict your play. Whilst this on its own won’t solve your gambling addiction, it can help by making gambling more difficult to do.
In the context of Know Your Customer, the aim is to ensure a casino doesn’t inadvertently let self-excluded players gamble or set up an account.
This would be harmful to both the player and the reputation of the site.
What Is The Verification Process In An Online Casino?
The main things a casino site will want to check are:
- You are who you say you are
- You live where you say you do
- Your age is what you say it is (and also that you’re old enough to legally gamble)
They will do this by asking you for:
- Identification (e.g. passport or drivers licence)
- Proof of address (e.g. a recent bill)
It’s possible you are asked for further documentation. This is usually if their database hasn’t been able to match you. In this case you might be asked for or if you’ve been flagged for a ‘source of wealth request’ (more on that in a moment):
- A recent bank statement
- Business accounts
Whilst documentation is the key to the verification process, other systems are involved.
Proof Of ID & Age
This is fairly simple. You’ll be asked to provide proof of identification. As mentioned above, this is normally by showing your passport and driver’s licence.
As these will also show your date of birth, they act as proof of age too.
It’s also possible that you’re asked to provide a selfie photo (often using their technology). Or even to do a quick video call.
These are just extra ways of confirming you’re of legal gambling age and you are who you say you are. Nothing to worry about!
If you don’t have a passport or driver’s licence, contact the online casino. There are sometimes workarounds (for example, your birth certificate in conjunction with other documents).
Online casinos often use OCR (Optical Character Recognition) like OCR Labs to automate the reading of documents you send.
Proof Of Address
Again this is quite simple. An easy way to prove your address as part of KYC is to show a recent bill.
This can be supplemented with the site doing a credit check, as I’ll mention in a moment.
‘Soft’ Credit Check
It’s quite normal for a casino to do what’s called a ‘soft’ credit check.
You’ll probably know what a credit check is – you’ll have it done any time you apply for a mortgage, loan or credit card. When you do, a credit check is performed and recorded on your file.
When many credit checks are recorded on your file, this can have a negative impact (as it shows lenders you’re applying for lots of credit).
A ‘soft’ credit check is where it’s not recorded on your file. So there’s no negative impact to your credit history or score at all. (You often see this offered if you want to check if you’re eligible for a credit card before properly applying).
So if a casino does a credit check on you, it’s nothing to worry about and won’t impact your ability to get credit.
A soft credit check is another way they can confirm your identity and address.
Source Of Wealth Request
This can be triggered as art of anti-money laundering responsibilities., ‘Source of wealth’ is simply where your money has come from.
Normally you can prove your ‘source of wealth’ using something like:
- A payslip and/or your contract
- Proof of pension
- Proof of dividends income
- A will (if you’ve just inherited a lump sum of money)
- Bank statement
- Proof of gambling win
- Trust deed
- Contract (if you’ve just sold a house for example)
Obviously any of the above will need to have your name on them.
👉 It’s easy to feel worried if you’re asked to prove your ‘source of wealth’. Don’t be. It’s simply part of how online casinos are regulated and not a personal attack on you!
Remember – this is all part of protecting the industry and therefore you too.
Properly assessing SOW is taken very seriously by regulators. White Hat Gaming was fined £1.3m for not doing proper AML and other processes. This included failing to adequately assess SOW checks.
Source of wealth checks during KYC can also apply to land based casinos. This is usually triggered if you’re transferring a very big amount and/or it’s cash.
As Christchurch Casino says, “Being asked to provide us with any information does not mean that we suspect you of illegal or illegitimate activity.”
What Happens To Your Data?
We’ve spoken a lot here about the need for customers to give online casinos their data for KYC requirements. That might be via documents or online checks.
So you might be wondering, what happens to that data and is it secure?
Well rest assure that for any reputable online casino, it’s perfectly safe. And laws and regulations protect it.
Each country has slightly different data protection legislation and requirements. If I listed them all here, we’d bee here for a while! One that you might hear about though is GDPR.
For customers in their European member states, the General Data Protection and Regulation (GDPR) applies.
This is a hard-hitting piece of regulation that ensures data is controlled and protected properly. It also means countries that hold the data of EU citizens must abide by it.
Any decent online casino will have stringent processes to protect your data. Often these are then certified by intendent bodies like eCOGRA.
Data protection is also important for the protection and perception of a casino brand. Data breaches are big news and can erase the trust customers’ have of a company. In 2020 the gambling app Cubillion hit the news for breaching data of millions of players.
Basically – no company wants the bad press that comes with not looking after their customer’s data.
What Services Are There For KYC?
As Know Your Customer processes can be resource heavy to set up for casino sites, there are a number of companies that offer help with this.
These aim to streamline the KYC work a casino does by letting them use their technology or resources rather than starting from scratch.
Yoti positions themselves as a company that helps make “Digital identity as a force for good”. They offer services to consumers and businesses.
For online casinos they offer an AI-driven age and ID verification process. This uses AI technology that they’ve developed which assesses a selfie you take. It will compare this to your ID and also assess whether the person in the selfie looks the right age.
Other options are using an app, scanning their documents, credit card check and more. If you want to demo it have a look at this. Super cool.
Yoti works with some big names like Gamesys, Reflex Gaming and Virgin Games.
Ondato is a B2B solution for various industries. their services include ID and age verification.
In an article on Forbes, their CEO Liudas speaks about how important KYC is for online gambling sites. A big takeaway from the article is how important it is to make the KYC process simple and easy for customers.
A great reminder that KYC shouldn’t be an onerous process.
“From what we’ve seen, online gamers have almost zero patience for tiresome additional ID checks“Liudas Kanapienis
KYCHub offer a suite of solutions for online gambling providers. Like Ondato and Yoti, they help with age/ID verification. (Notably, their product works in more than 180 countries).
They also specialise in monitoring transactions to spot suspicious ones.
RiskScreen offers KYC and AML solutions across relevant industries. Like KYCHub, their products are mix of proactive and reactive services, including ID/age verification.
KYCAid has solutions for both online and live casinos. As well as ID and age checks, these include checking databases of gambling addicts.
This helps prevent people who have self-excluded (see our guide to problem gambling for more) from playing.
Their product includes a ‘liveness check’. This is where they ensure a person who is on a video call is actually who they claim.
- AML/CFT Legislation (NZ Internal Affairs)
- Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Definitions) Regulations 2011 (New Zealand Legislation)
- Customer Identify Verification (UK Gambling Commission)
- AML/CFT – Prevention & Supervision (Malta Gaming Authority)
- Prevention of Money Laundering Act (Malta)
- Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (New Zealand Legislation)
- What Is Money Laundering? (Justice.govt.nz)
- Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (US Government)
- Exclusion Order (Problem Gamblers) Guidelines (New Zealand)
- The Three Stages Of Money Laundering (GoCardless)
Casino Know Your Customer – FAQs
Can you gamble without ID?
Highly unlikely. Nearly all casinos will ask you for this.
Is KYC a bad thing?
Not at all! KYC regulations keep us as online gamblers safe. They also help the casino sites stay safe.
Together this means the industry is more honest and legit.
The only thing you can say about KYC that’s ‘bad’ is the extra steps of having to verify yourself.
Do all casinos ask for ID?
Yes. All online casinos ask for this.
Any casino or gambling site that doesn’t do KYC checks is probably illegal and should be avoided.
How Do Online Casinos Verify Your Age?
Casino sites will ask for identity that proves your age as part of KYC. This will usually be a scan of a document like your passport or drivers licence.
How Do Online Casinos Verify Your Identity?
Casinos will ask you for documents such as a passport or driver’s licence. This may also need to be backed up by a selfie and/or a video call.
Why Do Casinos Ask For ID?
To check you are who you say you are. And to check you’re old enough to gamble. ID is a basic requirement of KYC.
Why Do Casinos Ask For Bank Statements?
This would normally be if they need to prove Source of Wealth (SOW) as part of anti-money laundering.
If they do ask you for a bank statement, they’ll be looking for proof of income and/or proof of where your funds come from.
What is Enhanced Due Diligence?
These are extra checks and stages of the KYC process that may be needed. This might be if the normal processes have triggered something or weren’t conclusive.