Age Verification

The challenges for Age Verification both online and offline

As reported by SBCNEWS last week, the licenses of seven UK on-course bookmakers are now under review by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for allowing a 16-year old to place a bet at this year’s Royal Ascot event in June. 

Although on-course bookmakers across the UK are carrying out checks to ensure that under-aged persons are unable to place a bet under the principles of ‘Think 21’, the sector has repeatedly come under fire for supposedly failing to carry out thorough age-checks.

As a part of the Think 21 policy, the employees of sports betting operators are trained to offer the bookmakers’ services accordingly, with all operating procedure updated to reflect the need to conduct appropriate ‘face to face’ age verification checks.

It’s not only representatives from across the racing sector however that are calling for further information on age verification measures to address under-age activities; in this case, gambling.

A tricky thing to get the balance right, juggling the needs of the punter, as well remaining compliant with the needs of the UKGC. Regardless of the regulation, it’s important to offer as much guidance as possible to customers to make their journey simpler.

Hamper the route to much on the journey to purchasing what they want, the consumer will walk away. A seamless and quick journey that complies with the regulations and yet, leaves the retailer safe in the knowledge that they’ve sold product or service to the ‘right’ customer is nirvana.

Above and beyond the human checks & balances, technology can also play a part in providing a practical and sustainable solution to this problem.

As a “wake-up call” for the betting operators to be more careful when offering their services to underage individuals, there continues to a buzz around retail focussed Age Verification (AV) solutions.

Regulations shouldn’t prevent on-course or online gambling businesses from developing new ideas or, addressing age old problems in different ways.

Re-training and re-education programmes of staff should help improve the “pass rate” however it becomes a costly exercise every time a business or sector is found wanting on their compliance needs.

The Guardian also reported last week that the UKs big supermarkets are still selling knives to children.

Despite retailers’ recent public pledges to toughen up their sales policies, the results of the tests carried out by National Trading Standards officers seem to suggest that not enough has been or is being done in the area of Point of Sale (Pos) age verification.

It’s not just the ‘bricks & mortar’ retail outlets that have fallen short of expectations. The Guardian article points that of 100 online test knife purchases made, ‘children’ could buy knives on 41 occasions; an even higher rate of purchase than wen dealing with the consumer face to face.

The Wall Street Journal also reported recently that the e-Cigarette start-up Juul Labs Inc. is offering more than $100 million in incentives to retailers to install a new electronic age-verification system intended to curb illegal sales to minors.

Facing blame for a surge in teenage vaping across the US, the point-of-sale system blocks each Juul purchase until the shopper’s driver’s license or other government identification has been scanned and validated.

If you run an online gaming service, online or on-course betting operation or an online store selling e-Cigarettes, alcohol or even cannabis in the future, conducting age verification is a legal requirement in jurisdictions that permit such online activities.

The design of the AV service or services needs to be such that it supports optimal experience; both online and offline. Like all proven identity verification processes and procedures, age verification shouldn’t serve the purpose of regulatory compliance alone. It’s about doing the right thing and doing it well.

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