If you’ve joined an online casino or sportsbook before, then you’ll likely know that these all have a strict Know Your Customer (KYC) process to take you through. At least, this is the case if they are officially licensed and regulated. A key part of any gambling license is that players must be kept safe, and they must be able to bet without going beyond their means. Gambling companies themselves also need to protect themselves from crime and this is one reason they want to know who you are. This all falls into the KYC process, which is why identification documents are usually requested before you make a deposit to a gambling site.
However, is it possible for you to engage in betting without any kind of identification? The quick answer is yes, you can bet in a betting shop, land-based casino, bingo-hall, arcade, etc., without ID (although you may still be asked to prove your age if you do not look old enough). You can also gamble in cash (if gambling low to moderate amounts), giving complete anonymity. However, when it comes to online gambling you need to consider that ID is there for a purpose and the only way to gambling online, from the UK, without ID is via an unlicensed site. This is not advisable, not least because the company you are gambling with are not held to account and could simply take your money, not payout or even worse sell on your payment details to fraudsters.
What Identification is Required for and How It is Used
Why is it necessary for you to provide identification at online gambling sites? Especially when you can pretty much just walk into a high street bookmaker and place a wager with little possibility of being challenged, if you look over 25. Well, as it happens, it’s much more to do with protecting minors and vulnerable people from the effects of gambling.
The difference with online gambling sites and land-based establishments is that employees can actually physically see you. If you walk into a betting shop at age 14 and want to place a bet on a horse race event, the employee serving you would have no qualms about obeying the law and denying you that possibility because you’re under 18. However, when it comes to online gambling platforms, nobody can see you. There is little to stop you from simply inputting various details at a website and masquerading as an of-age gambler, despite the possibility that you may be below 18.
Therefore, so that a gambling website is able to confirm you are of legal gambling age, it is necessary to submit certain documents, including one that identifies you and your age. This can be something like a passport or a driving licence, for example.
The other thing a company needs to check is where you are gambling from. For example, you cannot gamble with a UK betting site from certain other countries or if you are not a UK resident. If you walk into a betting shop or a land based casino in the UK it is obvious that you are in country, as you are physically there. The same is not true online. Therefore, companies request proof of address so that you can show you reside in the UK, on other occasions betting sites check your details against the electoral roll or through a soft credit check (if depositing using a debit card).
In late 2020, the UK Gambling Commission posted information regarding its licensed operators requiring age and ID verification. This process must take place before you are able to place any wagers at a platform in the UK. And it is age verification that stands out as the primary reason for you needing to submit this at a licensed online gambling site. Regardless of whether you are 18 or 99, an online betting site will always request this information from you before you can proceed with placing your bets.
At the same time, platforms want to ensure that crime is kept to a minimum, and therefore, the KYC process is in place so as to halt fraud and money laundering operations. The law today differs in comparison to that which was in action in the early days of the online betting scene. Realising that things were getting out of control with this though, changes were implemented in 2014 to make it more stringent, and again in 2019 and 2020.
Once you submit documents to confirm your identity, age, home address and/or anything else, the gambling site’s KYC team will check them over. The information on them will be compared with the information on your betting account, and as long as nothing flags up as suspicious, you’ll be allowed to access the cashier, make a deposit and place bets. The documents are then stored safely and securely, ensuring you can withdraw easily and proceed with future deposits and wagers without the need of verification again.
Betting Without Identification
The short answer is yes, you can bet without ID, although usually this depends upon the circumstances by which you are gambling. Really, the only option you have for partaking in betting without any ID, legally, is through a high street bookmaker or at a racecourse, for example. After all, you are physically able to be seen when you place your wagers at these locations. It’s not the same as visiting a website and signing up for a betting account.
Essentially, your identity and age are checked by the bookie or racecourse employees looking at you and deciding that you are of legal age to participate. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be asked for ID should you look too young. It’s not uncommon for young adults to look younger than 18, in fact, you should be challenged if you look under 25 (the idea being this should catch even those who are under 18 but look older or dress to look older).
In this instance though, you won’t need to prove where you live or who you are. All the employee needs to see is that you are of a legal gambling age. Therefore, you can simply show them the ‘Date of Birth’ section of your passport or drivers license, for example. An online casino or bookmaker will need to verify you for all of those details and more, which makes the verification process a lot longer and invasive overall. Generally speaking, though, land-based establishments won’t usually require you to provide any identification unless you look too young.
One of the other options you may consider, although one that isn’t advisable in any way, is to join an unlicensed online casino or sportsbook. These sites provide similar betting options to licensed operators. however, because they aren’t licensed by any regulatory body, they don’t have any specific rules to adhere to. Therefore, you can simply deposit, place wagers and withdraw at many of them without having to submit any documentation in the process. The issue with proceeding with this particular option is that you have no protection as a customer. Your funds cannot be guaranteed as safe, and neither can your personal information. This means that unlicensed sites can be quite the abyss for minors or vulnerable people to fall into and get stuck. The UKGC and other bodies are also working hard to shut these sites down and prevent them offering gambling services to UK residents.
One route that some people take as a way of getting to bet with a certain level of anonymity is by going on a gambling holiday. This, of course, sees you visit different countries to participate in gambling, where different rules exist surrounding verification processes. For example, you may choose to visit Macau or Monte Carlo, where legislation may be somewhat different around gambling.
The United Kingdom has its own laws surrounding identification documents and KYC protocols, whereas other countries potentially don’t have anything like this or less strict rules around it. Some of the best hot spots for gambling holidays include the aforementioned Macau and Monte Carlo destinations, as well as South Africa, the Bahamas, India and, of course, Las Vegas.
Naturally, we recommend that you look into the gambling laws of the country that you’re visiting for a holiday. While some do have much less severe regulations surrounding KYC processes, others may still require that you prove who you are and your age etc. Plus, keep in mind that some countries require you to be 21 years of age or above to participate in gambling.
As a side point, it is also worth bearing in mind that some countries do not allow gambling and you could face serious charges, including prison, if you do gamble in some countries. Check the gambling rules for any country you visit if you plan to bet whilst there.
Betting Online by Cash Deposits and Paysafecard
When thinking about online gambling sites, we consider that it is necessary to make a deposit through a debit card. And this is the prime format that is still used by many people for such. However, some sites do allow you to deposit money using cash, and this is done by visiting a land-based betting shop. Companies like William Hill, Ladbrokes, Betfred and so on have high street shops that you can visit in order to utilise your money for making a deposit into your online account. Essentially, you take your cash there, hand it over to the staff member behind the desk and they deposit the funds into your account for you.
Alternative deposit methods like Paysafecard require you to buy a card with your money in a shop, and then use the voucher code to deposit money at your chosen sportsbook or casino.
However, this doesn’t stop you from having to send verification of your age to your chosen site. Let’s say that you open an account at Ladbrokes and you’ve decided that you will visit a land-based betting shop to deposit money into your online account with £100 in cash. The account is opened up online via a quick two-minute registration process. You aren’t then able to simply go to the land-based shop and deposit that £100 into the account straight away. If you try this, then the employee at the shop will see that your account remains invalidated and won’t be able to accept the cash for the deposit.
In this instance, you will still need to complete the KYC process, submitting the relevant documentation to the Ladbrokes site as requested. A deposit through a Paysafecard is the same thing. For example, let’s say that you open up your Ladbrokes account in the same way and you visit the nearby store that sells Paysafecards. You buy one from the outlet for £50 and then return home to input the voucher code at your chosen betting site. You still wouldn’t be able to access the cashier page because you have to verify yourself before any type of deposit can take place.
After registering for your online account, you still need to submit the necessary documents. In terms of cash deposits through a land-based establishment or through Paysafecard for example, you need to verify your age and home address by submitting the following document copies:
- Identity Documents – One form of ID, such as a passport or a driving licence clearly displaying your name, date of birth and so on.
- Proof of Address – A copy of a utility bill, bank statement or something official with your home address on it that has been sent within the past three – six months.
Without passing these KYC procedures, you won’t be able to engage in depositing or placing any sort of bets at the site you have registered at.
As you can clearly see from this article, while it is possible to bet without any form of identification, to do this legally, you have to physically attend a betting shop, racecourse, casino, bingo hall, arcade, etc.
Signing up to an offshore and/or unlicensed platform is very risky and generally speaking, if you do look younger than 18 when visiting a racecourse of land-based betting shop, you’ll still need to provide ID anyway. The best route to take is to simply adhere to the KYC protocol after registering online.
It’s a simple enough process to undertake, with sites accepting smartphone camera pictures of such, as long as all of the relevant information is displayed clearly. This is something that you only need to complete once, and then the documents are securely stored on your account for any future transactions.
The main thing to bear in mind is that gambling companies are required by law to verify customers, they are not collecting your ID to profile you. They also must store your documents securely and would face hefty penalties if they didn’t.