What is the KYC Process & How Does It Work?

KYC stands for Know Your Customer and refers to checks carried out by bookmakers to prevent fraudulent accounts being created and to counteract underage gambling.

The KYC procedure is the most common source of disputes between bookie and punter.  Bookmakers often say that they carry it out for player security, which is essentially a euphemism for the bookmaker protecting itself against what it considers to be fraud.  However, what many players fail to realise is that the KYC process is an essential part of the online gambling experience and standard identity checks are reasonable and to be expected.

What Does The Bookmaker Ask For?

The bookmaker will usually ask for a photograph of the player’s passport or driving licence (or, in countries where they are issued, identity card) and a recent utility bill or bank statement.  The purpose of this is to ascertain that the player is who they claim to be and that they are old enough to legally gamble.

Some bookmakers will ask for further images, such as photographs of the card used to deposit or a screenshot of the e-wallet account evidencing the transaction to the bookmaker.  Usually the bookmaker will ask the player to obscure some of the digits from the card; this means that the player maintains a level of protection against a company having images of his credit or debit card details.

Bookie Dispute considers the provision of the above photographs to be reasonable and industry standard.

Some bookmakers will ask for further details and photographs, such as (but not limited to) ‘selfies’ with documents, proof of funds, employment details and notarised documents.  Whether these are requested seems to vary on an account by account basis but, as a general rule, Bookie Dispute considers the provision of these images and/or details to be excessive.

What Problems Arise From These Requests?

The obvious problem is that the player will experience a delay in receiving their payout.  The most common source of irritation among players is that the bookmaker will only ask for these documents upon a withdrawal request being submitted, with the bookmaker happy to accept deposits without performing any checks.  There are exceptions to this, but generally a player can deposit as much as they like without being scrutinised, while identity proof will be required for even small payouts.  Bookmakers can then ask for around 72 hours to verify the documents which, coupled with the withdrawal timeframe, means that players can be waiting in excess of a week for their money.

Some bookmakers will also insist on non-standard documents being provided, such as selfies with identity documents, and refuse to pay until they receive them.  These requests typically come after an initial set of documents has been provided, meaning that the player experiences a further delay.  Cynics suggest that bookmakers deliberately do this to increase the chances of the player losing their funds in the interim, whereas bookmakers insist it is for everyone’s security.  The truth is probably somewhere in between.

A seemingly easy way of removing this problem would be ask the player to verify their account immediately and refuse to accept any deposits or bets in the interim.  This would put the player and bookmaker on a level playing field and resolve any arguments about bookmakers being unscrupulous with their requests.  There are several reasons why this does not appeal to bookmakers, such as not wanting to deter the player from depositing and hoping that a delay in paying will result in the player losing their money during the waiting period, but it would seem fair to have a standardised KYC process, meaning that the parties are placed upon a more equal footing.

Can I Avoid The KYC Process?

In short, no.  All bookmakers reserve the right to enforce it and, as part of their licensing obligations, should perform a basic level of screening to ensure that their customers are of legal age.  If you are not comfortable with providing images of identity documents, you should avoid gambling online and stick to cash wagers in shops.

What Should I Do If I Feel That A Bookmaker Is Abusing The KYC Process?

The simplest thing is to contact us for some initial advice.  Most issues are resolved quickly and we are usually much quicker with our advice than any regulatory body may be.  Bookmakers deal with several KYC issues every day and they can take a little time.

We are happy to be contacted with legitimate concerns about the KYC process, but please bear in mind that requests for a basic level of identity proof are to be expected and are likely to be reasonable.