So far, it has already become clear that so-called source-of-wealth (SOW) or source-of-funds (SOF) checks are here to stay on the territory of the UK, especially when it comes to casinos whose operating licences are issued by the competent authorities in Malta and the UK.
For the time being, these are the only two jurisdictions that expect players to present evidence of personal banking information in order to prove they can afford to lose a certain amount of money while gambling in online casinos. The same requirement, however, does not apply when it comes to the services offered by land-based casinos.
Since the implementation of the more restrictive player checks in the UK, it has pretty much remained unknown whether or not these measures are actually working and how British players are reacting to these requirements. Recently, the Casinomeister forum has published a poll that especially targets gamblers in the UK and the European Union (EU) to check how they are reacting to the requirements and dealing with the stricter checks.
A similar poll was held in both 2019 and 2021 in the forum of one of the first online casino portals, so it would be interesting to see the current trends in UK and EU online gamblers’ opinions on the matter.
UKGC Requires Gambling Companies to Make Sure they Know Their Customers Through Affordability Checks
As Casino Guardian previously reported, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued more requirements for gambling companies to make sure they know their customers in order to provide them with the best possible service and make sure the British gambling sector is safe, fair, and free of crime.
Under some rules unveiled by the country’s gambling regulatory body, gambling operators are required to keep crime, including money laundering, away from the country’s gambling industry. They are also obliged to make sure their customers do not fall into financial difficulties as a result of their gambling habits.
Therefore, gambling businesses need to use various techniques to receive an in-depth knowledge of their customers that could help them to indicate whether a person is gambling with money they do not actually have or cannot afford to lose. They could either go directly to customers or use a third party to obtain the necessary information, including bank statements and income patterns.
On one hand, bank statements help gambling companies check whether their customers’ source of funds is legitimate as part of the operators’ anti-money laundering checks they are required to complete under the UKGC rules. On the other hand, gambling companies may require information about their customers’ income patterns to check whether there are any irregular income patterns going on in players’ accounts. They also look at appropriate deposit or loss thresholds based on their customers’ income by using publications of the Office of National Statistics and open source data when making the above-mentioned affordability assessments.
First Reports of Proposed Affordability Checks Cause Negative Reactions among British Gambling Businesses and Their Customers
As Casino Guardian previously reported, the UK gambling sector has not been exactly keen on the implementation of an additional regulatory measure, especially when it comes to intrusive financial checks which, according to operators, could boost the popularity of the unregulated black online market among local customers.
Apart from the negative reaction of the regulated gambling sector in the UK, the fact that some local customers have taken the proposed measure in an equally negative manner has been considered quite concerning. Earlier this year, it was revealed that a large number of British online gamblers could refuse their personal information and financial statements with gambling companies because many of them considered such checks too harsh and intrusive.
Previously, some users of The Gambling Community Forum have criticised the enhanced know-your-customer measures and the proposed affordability checks, with some of them even predicting that further restrictions on the regulated gambling market in the UK could result in the industry’s breakdown. Although at the time when reports of the stricter gambling industry rules first emerged, many gamblers predicted the checks could push customers towards unregulated markets and services even though they were still not sure what games would be included in the proposed SOW checks.
Ongoing Casinomeister Forum Poll on Customer Affordability Checks Puts the Measure’s Efficiency under Question
As mentioned above, the Casinomeister forum is now holding a poll aimed at checking how UK and EU gamblers are reacting to the source-of-wealth checks.
The poll, which is still available to the forum users to vote, was published on September 15th. It features seven answer options aimed at checking how customers feel about the SOF checks required by the UKGC and whether they believe such checks are too intrusive and biased towards online gamblers.
At the time of writing, a total of 98 forum users have taken part in the survey, with more than one-third of them (37.8%, representing 37 users, voting in favour of the fourth answer option – “If I am asked for source-of-wealth, I don’t comply and move on to another casino”. The fact that a number of Casinomeister forum users have confirmed they prefer to turn to another online gambling operator when required to present bank statements or other evidence about their financial state actually puts the effectiveness of the stricter regulatory rules under question. This trend started seeming even more concerning after some forum users, such as “Reelsoffun”, reported they were seriously considering whether to start playing at non-UK licensed casinos due to the intrusiveness of the source-of-wealth checks.
Some of the users who took part in the Casinomeister forum poll even reported they are ready to lose accounts they have been holding on to for several years now because they refuse source-of-funds checks and try to avoid UKGC-licensed and regulated online gambling platforms.
These thread answers have been backed by the poll results, according to which a total of 18 forum users, or 18.4% of the total voters at the time of writing of this article, say they “don’t like the intrusiveness and play at casinos that are NOT licensed by the UKGC or MGA”. On the other hand, there are also online gamblers who continue playing at casinos that require SOW checks even though they do not like the intrusiveness of these checks (12 voters, or 12.2%). Furthermore, ten poll voters say they do not like how intrusive online gambling companies’ source-of-fund checks are but they continue to play at such casinos, albeit less frequently (10 voters, 10.2%).
The effectiveness of the country’s gambling regulatory body’s requirements for getting a more in-depth knowledge of their customers is also put under question by the number of voters who chose another answer option in the Casinomeister forum poll. At the time of writing, 14 voters, or 14.3% of the total number of participants, answered that they have never been asked to provide bank statements or other source-of-funds proof, so they continue playing at UKGC- and/or MGA-regulated casinos.
Six out of 98 poll voters at the time of writing (6.1%) answered that they do not mind the SOW checks and play the same, while only one Casinomeister forum user reported they do not mind gambling operators’ source-of-fund checks and play even more after the implementation of the measure.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.