The 2021 Grand National will be like no other given that it will be held behind closed doors for the first time. The 2020 National was cancelled at late notice and with this being the first running in two years there is expected to be more interest than usual. This is compounded by the fact that the restrictions in place in the UK mean that more people will be at home than usual and plan to watch the race, and possibly bet on it too.
Those that would usually go to a betting shop to place their National bets in cash cannot do so this year, with the race due to take place just two days before shops are allowed to open. This means more people than usual will want to place their bets online. For those that do not have an online betting account or want to use a new bookmaker this year there is a major consideration to be aware of if you plan to place your bets on the day of the race.
In 2019 new verification rules were brought in for UK betting sites. These new rules mean that operators are now legally obliged to verify that you are over 18 with a UK residential address and that you are who you say you are before you can deposit and bet. These verification procedures can mean you need to provide ID (such as a passport) and proof of address to the site before you can make an initial deposit. These things of course can take time, often more than 24 hours, which means those betting on the day of the race could end up disappointed.
What Are The New Verification Rules?
The last time the Grand National was run in 2019 the new verification rules had not yet come into force, in fact they came in a few weeks after the last race. Prior to the new rules companies still had to verify who customers were but they would often only do this at the point of making a withdrawal, not on sign up.
Since May 2019 betting companies now have to verify customers before they allow them to gamble, this means you can no longer deposit and bet before completing these checks. These rules were brought in primarily to reduce underage gambling and they do make the industry safer as a whole, although the drawback of course is it means many customers now face a delay between sign up and the ability to place an actual bet.
This is particularly annoying for those occasional bettors who only bet on the Grand National once a year and may only need an online account this year because they are unable to place bets in shops.
Do All Customers Need To Provide ID?
All customers need to be verified but that doesn’t mean all users need to send in ID. With a lot of the major betting companies they will check your details against the electoral roll. If you sign up and add debit card payment details, and if the registered address matches the one you used to sign up, then some operators can perform a soft credit check to verify who you are.
A soft credit check allows companies to see your details, such as date of birth and your addresses but it is not a full credit check and so cannot damage your credit score.
In these cases you may not even know you’ve been verified and you will be able to deposit and bet almost immediately. For those that use alternative payment methods to debit cards, those that have multiple addresses. have moved recently or are not on the electoral roll, then additional verification is likely. This may even be the case if you have used a debit card and are on the electoral roll, it depends on the betting site and their procedures – some require documents irrespective. Some will even send a specific code to your address in the post that you have to enter online, to prove you live there, which of course will take days.
If you are requested to send in documents this will be a form of ID, such as a scanned copy or photograph of a passport or driving license. You may also need to send a proof of address.
Sign Up and Verify A Few Days Before The Race
Some of the bigger betting sites can perform verification checks very quickly, minutes in some cases. Whoever you bet with you can guarantee this will not be the case on Grand National day due to the simple volume of requests bookmakers are going to have. Again compounded this year by the number of additional people that are going to want to bet online.
Therefore, the safest way to ensure you can get your bet on this year is to sign up to a site in advance, to give them time to verify you first. You should then be able to deposit and place your bets in time for the race on April 10th, 5:15pm.
In previous years, even without the new verification rules, many betting brands would not accept sign ups on the day to avoid crashing their sites for existing users, so it is generally good practice to sign up a few days before in any case.
There are other benefits to registering in advance too, mainly sign up bonuses. Many bookies pull their bonuses for the National itself, or provide poorer offers. By signing up in advance you may also be able to take advantage of a better welcome offer.
It is worth noting too that if you have an existing account that you have not used since the last Grand National it is worth logging in soon as you may still need to provide verification documents.
Don’t Bet With An Unlicensed Site
There will be some that will be tempted to bet with an unlicensed betting site that doesn’t require verification, our advice is simply do not do it.
UK betting sites are licensed primarily to protect the customer and to protect the industry from being used for criminal purposes. Licenses give you protection, for example, your deposits are protected and there is a framework in place to deal with complaints should a site not pay you out properly.
If you bet with an unlicensed site they may not pay you out if you win but even worse than that they could sell on your payment details to fraudsters, which could end up costing a lot more than not getting paid out on a bet.
It would honestly be better to just not bet this year than to risk using an unlicensed bookie.