Stricter ID checks aim to prevent UK gamblers cheating system

Tougher ID checks will be brought in to make sure self-excluded gamblers cannot cheat the system to place bets, according to the Gambling Commission.

It comes after the head of GamStop, a scheme designed to help problem gamblers, said she was deeply concerned following an investigation by BBC Radio 5 Live that found a gambler who had self-referred could still place bets online by simply changing their user details.

A Gambling Commission spokesperson said they were already aware of the issues raised in the investigation.

The spokesperson added: “We will shortly announce the outcome of a consultation on ID verification and if our proposals are implemented later this year, gambling businesses will have to prevent customers gambling using incorrect details.

“GamStop is also still in its testing phase and is working on improvements. All self-exclusion systems need to be as effective as possible to protect consumers and once we are satisfied with the scheme we’ll expect all operators to take part.”

More than 50,000 people have signed up to GamStop, a service that launched in April 2018, to allow addicts to ban themselves from online betting platforms.

But the investigation found that the system did not work very well and could easily be exploited. GamStop’s CEO, Fiona Palmer, admitted the service was not working well enough.

She said: “We are taking on board the feedback and we are looking to improve the scheme.”

Matt Zarb-Cousin, a spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said the findings of the investigation were not surprising.

“Hopefully, the system improves in light of this and it does need to be multilayered, with lots of self-exclusion forms working together,” he said.

He added: “Even if GamStop was completely accepted as self-exclusion it would only apply to British gambling sites and sites not licensed with the Gambling Commission would still be accessible. To be effective [self-exclusion] has to be layered … I am involved with Gamban and it has been evaluated as the most effective blocking software.”

In May the Guardian obtained a letter in which the Gambling Commission warned the industry trade body, the Remote Gambling Association, about the GamStop self-exclusion scheme’s failings.

The commission’s executive director, Tim Miller, said he was “yet to see proper evidence of the effectiveness” of GamStop, which was scheduled for launch by the end of 2017 but has suffered delays.

The commission said it was also concerned that GamStop did not synchronise its list of registered users with companies’ promotional mailing lists.