Player financial risk checks a major worry for gaming operators, survey finds

SBC and IDnow Challenges in Compliance Survey

Obtaining the required personal financial information is the greatest barrier licensed betting & gaming operators face when onboarding players and the industry fears that mandatory affordability checks will make the situation worse, a new SBC study, commissioned by IDnow, has concluded.

The finding emerged as part of the SBC Media Challenges in Compliance Survey, which saw senior compliance representatives from operators in Europe, North America and Latin America share their thoughts on the major issues they face. The full report will be published in February 2024.

One of the survey’s questions was, “at what stage do you currently see the biggest drop-off rates in the onboarding process?” Just over 50% of respondents identified ‘Document Submission – Personal Financial Information’ as their most significant problem area.

The scale of the reluctance of players to share financial documentation was emphasized by the other answers to the question. The second and third most common drop-off points were at the ‘Registration’ and ‘Document Submission – ID Documents’ stages, but they were identified by just 15% and 13% of respondents respectively.

Another part of the survey examined attitudes towards the likely introduction of mandatory financial risk checks – more commonly known as affordability checks – in the UK.

The measure was included in the Government’s Gambling Act Review and the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is now running a consultation on what it describes as “frictionless financial risk assessments”. The checks would be requested when a player experiences losses greater than £1,000 within a rolling 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days, and would affect an estimated 3% of accounts.

It has suggested that these checks would largely be completed via a credit reference agency, although some industry experts have privately questioned whether this is a workable solution. Where no credit reference file is available, a customer would be asked to share data via a third-party open banking provider or to provide documents such as payslips and bank statements. 

The UKGC also plans to implement “light-touch financial vulnerability checks” for players who experience a £125 net loss within a rolling 30-day period or £500 within a rolling 365-day period. It is estimated that would be necessary for around 20% of accounts. 

Respondents to the Challenges in Compliance Survey displayed what could be interpreted as a significant degree of worry about the plan.

Asked what impact the introduction of the financial risk checks would have on the market, 67% of people predicted it would lead to a reduction in customer sign-ups at licensed operators, while 26% said it would have no effect.

Commenting on the results, SBC’s Content Director Ted Menmuir, said: “The findings emphasize the fact that people are uncomfortable sharing personal financial information, whether that be with gambling operators directly or government-approved entities.

“In theory, affordability checks are a potentially effective safer gambling tool, but they require a level of engagement from players. For those bettors unwilling to provide documents or wary of allowing a credit reference check, the chance to sign up with black market operators will become an attractive option.

“We can expect to see a long-running debate about affordability checks, both in the UK and other markets, but it is clear that they are not going away and that technology suppliers will have a crucial role to play in finding a workable solution.”

Roger Redfearn-Tyrzyk, Vice President Global Gaming for leading identity verification platform provider IDnow, added: “The results of the survey are quite insightful and are sure to act as as a wake-up call for gambling operators in the UK and elsewhere to prepare themselves for the emerging fraud and compliance challenges, especially around financial risk checks. 

“To address these challenges, operators will need technology providers with powerful, holistic affordability checks paired with multi-dimensional identity verification and fraud prevention, that enable seamless gambling experiences anytime, anywhere.”

The SBC Media Challenges in Compliance Survey addresses some of the key issues around compliance, player onboarding, fraud and technology. To sign up to receive a copy of the full report, please complete the form below.