For newbies, it might come as a shock. You sign up with a new online casino in a few simple steps, claim that juicy bonus, make your first deposit and start playing. Then, you win real money and request a withdrawal. You are then asked to submit a copy of your ID, bank statement and/or utility bills. What’s happening here? Aren’t those winnings yours by right?
In this article, we’ll explain why verification has become so important at online casinos and what you can expect from this process. There are a number of reasons for such verification, but almost all of them fall under one concept: security. So let’s take a look at what document verification involves and what it is meant to safeguard.
By law, it is illegal for casinos to allow anyone under the age of 18 to gamble and withdraw any winnings, even though these winnings exceed the amount staked. This is one of the reasons why you may be requested to send a copy of your ID or passport, and failure to provide such a proof will result in your stakes being returned to you, so that any winnings will become void.
The online casinos we recommend for our UK players are regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, a regulatory authority which imposes strict requirements on gaming operators to ensure player safety. This authority requests that online casinos should know who their players are, which brings us to the KYC process. KYC stands for "know your customer", and the main reason behind it is to prevent online casinos from being used for purposes of anti-money laundering (more on this below).
Of course, it’s good to know that you may always refuse sending your personal documents. However, if you do, your account may be frozen forever and you will not be able to withdraw any winnings, hence ending your relationship with the casino. Your only option would be to sign with a new casino and hope this one doesn't ask for such documents, but then, would you trust a casino which doesn't adhere to security requirements with your money?
Normally, a casino would want to confirm your age, identity and residence. To confirm your age and identity, they would need an Id-Card, Passport or Drivers License, both from the front and the back. As proof of residence, casinos normally ask for a recent utility bill (water, electricity, or phone bill).
For reasons of financial risk, casinos may also request a copy of your debit or credit card used to deposit and withdraw money. In this case, all digits on the card should be visible, and the back side of the card needs to be signed. It's also important to bear in mind that normally you will only be able to withdraw back to the same card or e-wallet with which you’ve made your deposit, and this card has to be your own (you cannot withdraw to your son’s/mother’s/wife’s card instead). One reason for this is to prevent anyone from stealing your money by withdrawing it to his or her own account, for instance in the case you lose your mobile phone and you’re still logged in to your account. Once someone tries to withdraw money to a different bank card, the online casino will know that something is up and therefore it will not permit the transaction to take place without verifying that the person trying to withdraw is actually the same account holder.
In some cases, (particularly in cases where players gamble fairly large amounts), a player may also be asked to send in a copy of his bank statement which indicates where his source of funds comes from. Sometimes, this is done for reasons of responsible gambling, whereby operators systematically check that the player’s income allows him to afford staking such large amounts.
But another important reason behind requests for bank statements is the risk of money laundering, to avoid situations where funds that have been obtained from criminal or illegal activity are being staked at a casino to be turned into legitimate winnings. In cases where an investigation regarding money laundering is being held, the casino may freeze the player’s account for an indefinite period, so your best option is to send all the documents requested from you to speed up the process.
For reasons of responsible gambling, online casinos may also request document verification to ensure that a player hasn’t self-excluded himself. You should know that once you’ve decided to self-exclude yourself for a certain period, there is no way you can play for real money until that period is over. Some players, however, may still try to play by assuming a different identity, which is why sometimes casinos may ask for copies of your bank card or e-wallet.
Below we’ve listed the aspects that are commonly required from each proof of identity with regard to utility bills, bank cards, bank statements or e-wallets:
Document verification by online casinos is a necessary process to ensure your safety and that of others. If you have any concerns with regard to how financial and personal data is stored, you should know that all licensed online casinos use 28 or 256 bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Data Encryption and that this method is practically impenetrable, ensuring that your data will not end up where it shouldn’t.
The bottom line is, yes, document verification may be time-consuming, but at the end of the day, it means that the casino is doing its best to comply with strict safety standards in order to ensure a safer gaming experience. Our top tip for players is to have the above documents readily scanned and handy in a folder somewhere within reach, so that you don't have to go through all the paperwork again if you sign up with a new casino. For more guidance and tips on how to help you enjoy a smoother online casino experience, we suggest consult our Casino Guides here. At CasinoHawks, we're here to help players make better choices!
CasinoHawks.com is a guide and is not representing the gambling operators.