Frequently asked questions from gambling consumers
We receive regular calls on a range of topics from consumers into our Contact Centre, which due to the Covid-19 crisis is currently open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. To continue to support consumers, especially during this time, here we outline some of the most common queries we receive.
Why is a consumer’s payment method not considered when carrying out due diligence/ID verification checks?
The name of the payer is not currently verified during the payment process and no online retailer or business can access cardholder name details from a payment.
This means that an online gambling business cannot check that the person paying for the gambling is the same person as who holds the account.
Sometimes a gambling business might ask a customer to put in a ‘cardholder name’ as part of the payment journey, and then it can do some basic checks to see if this name matches up with the account holder’s name, however they do not legally have to do this.
We expect that all gambling businesses consider how they can use the information available to them from customers to reduce the risk of fraud.
Someone I know has been gambling but the operator hasn’t completed any affordability checks. What are the rules around this?
We expect operators to have checks and controls in place to keep consumers safe and this includes stepping in when a consumer begins showing risks of gambling harm and checking that a consumer can afford their gambling activity. Read more about what we expect from operators on affordability and protecting consumers.
Am I correct in thinking I cannot use a credit card for my gambling account?
Yes, a credit card ban came into force on 14 April 2020 and we are monitoring this closely.
I’m seeing many more gambling adverts online. What can I do to block them?
You can limit the amount of adverts you are seeing on social media. We recently partnered with Twitter to create guidance aimed at supporting users who want to limit the amount of gambling-related content they see on the social media platform. The guidance explains the different ways in which Twitter’s safety tools and settings can be adjusted to reduce the risk of gambling-related messaging and advertisements appearing on your Twitter feed. We hope to do something similar with Facebook in the coming months.
In March we also reminded operators of our expectations around marketing and advertising during the lockdown period. Operators and their affiliates should be acting in a socially responsible way and not exploiting the current situation for marketing purposes.
I’m also seeing more gambling adverts on TV. What are you doing about it?
The industry body which represents betting shops, online betting and gaming, bingo and casinos, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has agreed to voluntarily remove all gaming product advertising on TV and radio for the duration of the Covid-19 lockdown. We welcome this announcement from the BGC as it will further help to protect consumers.
As the industry regulator, we are working closely with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and others to continue to review closely the impact of lockdown on gambling activity.
Complaints & Financial Redress
Why can’t the Gambling Commission help with my complaint or help me get my money back? What does the Gambling Commission do with the information I provide when I complain about a gambling business?
We do not resolve individual complaints. We are an industry regulator and not an ombudsman. An ombudsman is an independent service who has been appointed to look into complaints about companies and organisations. Our role is to protect the wider interests of consumers and aim to have the maximum impact in reducing risk in the areas that it is most needed. We use evidence from a range of places – including from gambling customers – to build cases against gambling businesses.
The information you provide is valuable to us and will help inform our work to raise gambling industry standards and make gambling fairer and safer. We may use it for the following purposes:
- to help us address specific compliance failings by a gambling business
- as evidence to inform enforcement action against a gambling business
- to inform policy development and potential changes to our rule book.
If we find failings with a gambling business we will take the most appropriate action from the range of regulatory sanctions available to us. We are unable to provide specific feedback on investigations but if formal action is taken we will share it on our website.
If you disagree with a gambling business about the result of your gambling transaction, or about the service you have received from them, then you should first complain to them.
We require gambling businesses who hold a Gambling Commission licence to have procedures in place for handling customer complaints. If you are not happy with the outcome when you have reached the end of the business’s complaints process (which will be no later than eight weeks from when the business received your complaint), you can choose to take your complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider. ADR providers act as an independent third-party between the gambling business and the customer when a dispute about the outcome of a gambling transaction cannot be resolved. They must give their services free of charge to the consumer. See our list of approved ADR providers.
You can use a tool, such as Resolver*, to help you make your complaint. Resolver is a free online service and app that offers advice and helps consumers with their complaints. There is a dedicated page for gambling consumers.
*The Gambling Commission does not endorse or promote Resolver’s services and has no responsibility for how Resolver operates.
What happens with the money recovered after enforcement action, and what is the rationale behind these decisions?
As a regulator, our role is to both protect consumers and ensure gambling businesses raise their standards. Part of the way we do this is by imposing sanctions on an operator after we have taken enforcement action. This often includes financial penalties, meaning we can punish a gambling business by telling them to pay us a fine and we may also impose licence conditions, suspend or even revoke (take away) a licence if we think it necessary.
We can also accept a regulatory settlement. This means that we come to an agreement with a gambling business to conclude our enforcement activity prior to us formally imposing a sanction. This usually includes an offer for them to pay an amount of money instead of the fine we would have made them pay but can include licence conditions or other elements designed to help correct the failings identified.
Any operator can submit a settlement offer for us to consider, but we do not have to accept it. Where a settlement includes a payment of money, we can direct that this is paid towards socially responsible purposes, for example charities that work with people with gambling addiction.
All fines or regulatory settlements, which happen as part of enforcement casework are conducted in line with our Statement of Principles for Determining Financial Penalties.
As well as financial penalties, we ensure that we look to the individuals who may be responsible for any failures identified to ensure they are held to account.
I’m having trouble cashing out from my online account? The company keep asking me for different types of ID?
Gambling businesses cannot demand customers submit ID as a condition of cashing out, if they could have asked for that information earlier. Read more about ID verifications and what we expect of operators. On 12 May 2020 we announced further measures to protect consumers and this included stopping all reverse withdrawal options until further notice.
Your guidance states that gambling businesses should carry out all checks at the earliest opportunity, so why do so many carry out AML checks when I try to withdraw my funds?
All gambling businesses must establish your name, address and date of birth before allowing you to gamble. Most operators do this by using electronic databases that give them assurance that the customer exists and that the given name, address, and date of birth all link to the individual. At varying points in the relationship they may need you to provide proof of these.
Where a gambling business delays a request to withdraw funds due to insufficient ID, that gambling business may be in breach of a licence condition (Licence Condition 17 – Customer identity verification) and may be subject to regulatory action.
This means that an operator may not ask for more information solely as a condition of withdrawing your funds, i.e. you cannot withdraw your funds unless you show more information. However, there will be circumstances where customers hit risk triggers requiring further checks later in the relationship. In these circumstances, operators should ask for more information as soon as possible.
This may mean that on occasions the customer is asked to provide more information at withdrawal. These requests are rare, and customers must be aware of the type of information that will be required, before they register.
Why is a gambling business asking me to take a selfie? Is this allowed?
Our rules say that gambling companies must check your name, address and date of birth before you are allowed to gamble. However, our rules do not say how the company should do this, nor what types of ID they should ask for. Gambling companies should be explaining what types of identity document or other information you might be asked to provide, and when you might be asked for it.
The main reason a gambling company might ask for a ‘selfie’ is if it suspects there may be fraudulent activity on that account. For example, where there has been identity theft and an account has been created using a person’s details, but that person is not controlling the account or doing the gambling.
Gambling companies should not be asking for this kind of information when a customer makes a withdrawal if they could have reasonably asked for it sooner, unless there is a legal requirement that means they have to ask for it at that time.
If you are not happy about the information you have been asked to provide, you will need to contact the gambling company directly.
Online gambling games
What do you do to ensure that online gambling games are fair?
As the regulator of the gambling industry, we require all gambling businesses who offer online gambling games (Random number generated-driven games) to have their software and gameplay tested in line with our testing strategy. Before any RNG driven game goes live, they undergo testing via independent Gambling Commission approved test houses to ensure they meet our Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards.
Online gambling games cannot be made available to players located in Great Britain unless sufficient testing has been carried out. This includes testing of the game rules, the Random Number Generator (RNG) and the scaling and mapping of this result to the outcomes within the product. It would include analysis over a huge sample of outputs.
Gambling businesses also complete an annual games testing audit which assesses the gambling software development, testing and release processes to ensure games are being developed to be fair.
Once a game has gone live, gambling businesses are required to check the performance of the games they offer. This is to make sure that the RNG driven products are fair and achieving the designed return to player (RTP). Read further information about remote game software payment faults.
If you have any evidence that a game is not fair then we would want to see it.
How does the Commission regulate casino premises? Do you check the roulette tables or carry out any type of compliance visits?
All casinos must be able to evidence that their games are fair and open. Aligning and balancing of roulette wheels is one of the ways that this is done. All casinos have policies and procedures in place to ensure this done routinely. Typically, it is a management licence holder that undertakes these checks. Checks are recorded as all gaming tables are covered by CCTV. Not only does the CCTV show the checks being done, it allows management to identify any unusual patterns of play.
Our Compliance team can and do request sight of CCTV footage showing checks being done. This can be done from our offices or as part of a visit. Under normal circumstances the team would visit all casinos from high-end establishments in London, to the large casino.
Raffles & Lotteries
Why doesn’t the Commission licence lottery syndicates?
Our website outlines how a lottery syndicate works.
We do not license lottery syndicates as the Gambling Act does not recognise them or require them to be licensed. Lottery syndicates are not offering or facilitating gambling themselves or have any control on outcomes.
Professional syndicates are a service, and we are not able to prevent them where they are staying the right side of the law.
The banning or regulation of syndicates is a matter for Government, as they are responsible for amending the Gambling Act.
What is the Commission doing to tackle the amount of illegal raffles and prize competitions?
We take every report of illegal lotteries and raffles seriously so that we can assess illegal gambling activity being offered to consumers in GB. However, due to the volume of reports or complaints that we receive, we are unable to respond to every one. As we are a risk-based regulator, we must consider what is the most proportionate response to each complaint or report.
We write out to promoters of illegal lotteries to advise that activity is illegal. Where we decide to intervene, we will consider working with third parties, including website providers, social media businesses and payment providers to take down illegal activity.
We can, in the most serious cases, also consider prosecuting the promoters of illegal raffles or lotteries.
We don’t regulate competitions and we can’t advise you how to run one, but you must be careful you are not running an illegal lottery. Lotteries can only be run for good causes and cannot be run for private or commercial gain. We monitor the boundary between lotteries, competitions and free draws to make sure that people who organise lotteries are properly licensed.
We don’t want to see members of the public getting into trouble because they don’t understand the rules about lotteries and the distinctions between them and competitions, and free draws, so we strongly urge people to read the advice on our website and take expert legal advice.
Here are some useful links detailing competition styles and how to submit an enquiry:
I was able to gamble with an operator online despite having self-excluded. What can be done?
As of the end of March all online operators are now required to participate in the online self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP and update their lists of self-excluded consumers every 24 hours. We took action against a number of operators who had failed to use the system and will not hesitate to do so again.
We do want to hear from any consumers who have evidence of gambling businesses not following our rules as we use this information to build cases against operators and raise standards.
Why are consumers who change one part of their personal details still able to gamble when self-excluded?
GAMSTOP only works by matching details put in by the consumer. Unfortunately, it is possible that minor changes to those details will mean that you can still gamble.
Once you are registered, it is important that you keep your details up to date, for example, if you move to a new house, change your last name or get a new email address. It is your responsibility to ensure that the details gambling held about you are correct and up to date.
Your self-exclusion using GAMSTOP will be most effective if you do not try to work around the exclusion measures GAMSTOP has put in place. When signing up to GAMPSTOP you agree not to attempt to register new gambling accounts, log in to any of your existing accounts, or in any other way try to get around GAMSTOP's mechanisms during your self-exclusion. You are responsible for any actions you take designed to get around any self-exclusion registered with GAMSTOP.
Help & Support
Where do I go if I’m worried about someone’s gambling?
When it comes to support and advice about your gambling habits or the gambling habits of someone you care about, you are not alone.
- The National Gambling Helpline provides confidential information, advice and support for anyone affected by gambling problems in England, Scotland and Wales. For more information visit gamcare.org.uk
- Public Health England has also issued guidance, advice and tips on how to maintain your mental wellbeing if you need to stay at home.