According to industry auditor Serve Legal

BGC members reach record compliance rates for age verification checks

Reading time 3:03 min

The UK's Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) members have achieved record compliance rates for age verification checks, according to industry auditor Serve Legal. Audit checks were conducted at single-site businesses through to national brands with thousands of locations on UK high streets, notes the trade body.

Independent figures provided by Serve Legal show bookmakers boasted a 91.4% age verification pass rate, across thousands of annual checks. Meanwhile, casinos have a near-perfect pass rate of 98%

This represents a 30% compliance increase across the audit volume since 2009, when Serve Legal began working with the regulated betting and gaming sector.

Regulated betting and gaming is now the leading sector in the UK for age verification compliance, surpassing supermarkets, convenience stores, and petrol forecourts, and delivering 10-15% higher compliance rates than the alcohol and lottery sectors annually, the BGC underscored.

"BGC members take a zero-tolerance approach to betting by children and have significantly raised standards to protect young people. Our members enforce strict age verification on all their products to prevent underage gaming and will further strengthen age verification measures by increasing the checking age from "Think 21" to "Think 25" across betting shops and casinos. This policy will require anyone who is over 18 but looks under 25 to provide ID," the Council stated in a press release.

The BGC also funds the £10m Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, delivered by charities YGAM and GamCare, which has reached more than two million 11 to 19-year-olds, and those working with them, in the UK.

Wes Himes

Wes Himes, Executive Director of Standards and Innovation, said: "The BGC and our members are incredibly proud of these compliance rates, which put us ahead of our peers in every department."

"I am hugely grateful to Serve Legal for their work over the last 15 years, who have been instrumental in this change. Serve Legal, alongside our members and their dedicated staff, has led the charge in raising standards and setting a new benchmark for excellence," he stated.

Himes further noted that bookmakers and casinos play "a vital economic role" on the UK's hard-pressed high streets, as well as in the leisure and tourism sector. But economic contribution has to go hand-in-hand with the highest standards.

"We are delivering that, which should be welcome news to customers and communities across the country. Our work to raise standards goes on, and I expect these compliance rates to continue improving across the land-based betting and gaming sector," he added.

Ali Deering

Ali Deering, Serve Legal Client Manager, commented: "Compliance challenges can be greater for smaller independent bookmakers. The BGC has done admirable work in bringing them up to speed with the latest compliance support, to offer a level playing field with other big names in the industry."

For his part, Ed Heaver, Serve Legal CEO, added: "The Serve Legal team is incredibly proud of the work conducted by the BGC and their members. Their impressive dedication and work ethic have paid off in some highly impressive statistics, showing the 30% compliance increase across the industry over the time that we have worked in the sector."

Ed Heaver

As part of the BGC's commitment to protecting young people from gambling harm, the trade body has committed to safe advertising practices. In 2019, BGC members introduced a whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sports before the 9 pm watershed, which led to the number of such ads being seen by children at that time falling by 97%.

BGC members have also introduced new age-gating rules for advertising on social media platforms, targeting ads to those aged 25 and over unless a platform can verifiably prove that its age-gating systems can prevent under-18s from accessing regulated betting and gaming advertising content.

"The BGC has also written to the Government, asking them to urge social media companies to cooperate more closely with the betting and gaming industry in limiting marketing seen by young people and problem gamblers," the Council said in a statement.

Recent data from the Gambling Commission published last year showed young people’s exposure to betting and gaming adverts and promotions had declined compared to the previous year. Of 11 to 17-year-olds, 55% had seen regulated betting and gaming adverts offline, compared to 66% in 2022, and 53% had seen adverts online, compared to 63% in 2022.

"The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gaming, unlike the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards strictly employed by BGC members," the Council concluded.

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