Bookmakers required to verify customers' age before betting online
New rules to make online gambling safer for children and fairer for customers are set to come into force in May, the Gambling Commission revealed on Thursday.
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright described the new rules as a "significant change".
Under the new regime operators must verify a customer's age before they can deposit funds or gamble with their own money, a free bet or bonus. Free-to-play gambling games will also have to be age verified.
Online operators have previously been allowed 72 hours to carry out age verification checks.
The regulator has also acted to tackle operators treating customers unfairly by requesting additional identity information when they attempted to withdraw winnings.
Under the new rules firms must at a minimum verify the name, address and date of birth of a customer before allowing them to gamble.
They will also have to ask for any additional verification information promptly, inform customers of the type of documents that might be required and ensure information on their customers' identities remains accurate.
The commission said the changes will mean that operators cannot demand that customers submit ID as a condition of cashing out if they could have asked for that information earlier.
The regulator also said they believed the changes increased the likelihood that someone will be identified if they attempted to gamble while self-excluded.
Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur added: "These changes will protect children and the vulnerable from gambling-related harm, and reduce the risk of crime linked to gambling. They will also make gambling fairer by helping consumers collect their winnings without unnecessary delay.
"Britain's online gambling market is the largest regulated market in the world and we want to make sure it is the safest and the fairest. Today's changes follow our review of online gambling and our ongoing widespread regulatory action into the online sector. We will keep using our powers to raise standards for consumers."
Wright added: "These significant changes mean operators must check someone's age before they gamble, and not after. They rightly add an extra layer of protection for children and young people who attempt to gamble online.
"By extending strong age verification rules to free-to-play games we are creating a much safer online environment for children, helping to shut down a possible gateway to gambling-related harm."
The new rules come into force on May 7.
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