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Covid-19: Our most common enquiries from gambling customers

We receive regular calls on a range of topics from consumers into our Contact Centre, which due to the Covid-19 pandemic is currently open from 10:00am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 4:00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

To continue to support consumers, especially during this time, here we outline some of the most common queries we receive. Please look and see if your query has been answered before contacting us.

You may also wish to read our lockdown guidance on how gambling companies should keep you safe while betting online. We encourage you to look at these as they are an important part of how gambling companies are required to protect you from harm.

Why we can’t resolve individual complaints

We are not an ombudsman. This means we do not have the powers to resolve gambling complaints or help consumers get their money back.

We can't resolve complaints about gambling transactions such as problems with withdrawals or technical faults in a game. If you have a complaint, you should complain directly to the gambling business in the first instance.

We are responsible for issuing personal gambling licences for individuals and gambling operating licences for businesses. We use our regulatory powers to take enforcement action if we find individuals or businesses failing to follow our rules and regulations.

Read more about how to complain to a gambling business.

How we use the information you give us

Our role is to protect the wider interests of consumers. We aim to have the maximum impact in reducing risk in the areas that it is most needed.

We use evidence from a range of places to build cases against gambling businesses. This includes information provided to us by gambling customers.

The information you provide is valuable to us and will help our work to raise gambling industry standards. We may use it for the following purposes:

  • to help us address specific compliance failings by a gambling business
  • as evidence to inform enforcement action against a gambling business
  • to inform policy development and potential changes to our rule book

I can’t withdraw my winnings

You may be stopped from withdrawing your money if unusual activity has been spotted in your account. A gambling business should not hold on to your money unnecessarily.

Where a gambling business needs to ask their customers for more information they must do so at the earliest opportunity. They cannot demand that customers submit any additional information as a condition of withdrawing funds from their account if they could have reasonably asked for that information earlier.

Gambling businesses must make sure that funds are not being used for criminal activity like fraud or money laundering. There may be some circumstances where a gambling business could not reasonably have identified a need to ask for additional information earlier, meaning their request for more information may coincide with the customer’s request to withdraw funds.

Examples of these circumstances could be:

  • unusual activity on a customer’s account, such as a spike in the number of bets or higher staking amounts
  • bets placed within a short space of time which are immediately followed by a request to withdraw funds

How to complain if you can't withdraw your winnings

There are many reasons why you may not be able to withdraw the winnings from your account. We do not have access to customers’ accounts, so we can't see what has happened if you're having problems.

You should complain directly to the gambling business and follow the complaints process to find out what the problem is.

Why gambling businesses ask for different types of ID

There are three main reasons why gambling businesses ask for ID:

  • to check you are old enough to gamble
  • to check whether you have self-excluded from gambling
  • to confirm your identity.

Before a customer registers with a gambling business, the business must make them aware of the types of information they might be required to provide, such as identification. They must also explain when the customer might be asked to provide them.

Businesses can often match your account with existing information which is stored on databases such as credit referencing agencies and the electoral roll.

If this information is not enough you will be asked to provide copies of identification documents, such as a passport, driving licence or utility bill.

If you are not happy about the information a gambling business has asked you to provide, you will need to contact the gambling business directly.

Why gambling businesses ask for selfies

A gambling business may ask you for a selfie if they think there may be fraudulent activity on your account. For example, where there's been identity theft and an account has been created using a person’s details, but that person isn't controlling the account or doing the gambling.

You can read our guide on Age and ID verification for more information.

Customer affordability checks

Gambling businesses must establish that their customers can afford to gamble in a way that is sustainable as of part of the customer’s leisure spend.

They use a variety of techniques to perform due-diligence checks on customers. This can help to indicate that a customer is gambling with money they do not have. We make gambling businesses aware of these indicators.

Gambling businesses may also go through a third party to find:

  • Bank statements. This is to help check that the money you are using to gamble with are genuine, and as part of a gambling business’s anti-money laundering checks.
  • Income patterns. Gambling companies can ask for information which may lead to irregular income patterns in your account, such as a pending house sale.

Gambling businesses also look at suitable deposit or loss thresholds based on your income. This is helped by using open-source data and Office of National Statistics publications which can help them assess affordability for its customer base in Great Britain.

They can use this data to help set thresholds or triggers to alert the need for extra customer checks.

Running a lottery or raffle

Lotteries and raffles are a form of gambling and you must follow the rules for the type of lottery you plan to run, otherwise you may be breaking the law.

You can only run a lottery or raffle to raise money for charity. The type of licence you need depends on the type of lottery you want to run and whether or not it is held online, which includes lotteries on social media.

To run lotteries or raffles that will have ticket sales of more than £20,000 each, or £250,000 in a calendar year, you’ll need to apply for a licence from us. 

If your lottery or raffle is smaller than this, you can register with your local authority.

Read our information and guides on ensuring lotteries, raffles, prize competitions and free draws are run legally.

How we tackle illegal lotteries

We take every report of illegal lotteries and raffles seriously so that we can review illegal gambling activity being offered to consumers in Britain.

We use a range of tools to do this. We write out to promoters of illegal lotteries to advise that activity is illegal. Where we decide to intervene, we will consider working with third parties, including website providers, social media businesses and payment providers to take down illegal activity.

If you think a lottery is a scam, you need to report this to Action Fraud (opens in new tab).

If you think the lottery is illegal and should be running under a licence or a local authority registration, you should report it to us or the local authority responsible for the area it is operating from.

Gambling advertising on television and online

Advertising of gambling products and services must be carried out in a socially responsible way. All gambling advertising is subject to strict rules which are written by the Committees of Advertising Practice (opens in new tab) (CAP) and enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (opens in new tab) (ASA).

The rules are designed to ensure that marketing communications for gambling products are socially responsible. In particular, gambling businesses must ensure that children and vulnerable people are not being harmed or exploited by advertising that features or promotes gambling.

We can take action against gambling businesses who do not follow advertising rules. This can include fines.

We have worked closely with Twitter and Facebook to create guidance aimed at supporting users who want to limit the amount of gambling-related content they see on those social media platforms.

The guidance explains the different ways in which safety tools and settings can be adjusted within your account to help reduce the risk of you seeing gambling-related messaging and advertisements.

Read the Twitter Consumer Guide and the Facebook Consumer Guide.

How we ensure online gambling games are fair

As the regulator of the gambling industry, we require all gambling businesses who offer online gambling games (Random number generated-driven games) to have their software and gameplay tested in line with our testing strategy (PDF opens in new tab).

All gambling products must have been tested by an approved test house before they are released to the market. Online gambling games cannot be made available to players located in Great Britain unless sufficient testing has been carried out.

Once a game has gone live, gambling businesses are required to check the performance of the games they offer. This is to make sure that the products are fair and achieving the designed return to player (RTP).

We held a consultation on slots games design and reverse withdrawals to make online gambling safer. The consultation closed in September 2020, read more about the outcome of this consultation and how we've made online games safer.

Self-exclusion with GAMSTOP

Self-exclusion is when you ask a gambling business to stop you from gambling with them for a certain length of time. It's used when you think that you have a problem with gambling and want help to stop.

GAMSTOP is an online multi-operator self-exclusion scheme and has been available since April 2018.

All gambling businesses must participate in this scheme. They must also update their lists of self-excluded consumers every 24 hours. We took action against a number of gambling businesses who had failed to use the system and will not hesitate to do so again.

We do want to hear from any customers who have evidence of gambling businesses not following our rules as we use this information to build cases against gambling companies and raise standards.

Read more about self-exclusion.

Why it is important to keep all your details up to date

GAMSTOP only works by matching details put in by the consumer. Unfortunately, it is possible that minor changes to those details will mean that you can still gamble.

Once you are registered, it is important that you keep your details up to date, for example, if you move to a new house, change your last name or get a new email address.

It is your responsibility to ensure that the details gambling held about you are correct and up to date. Your self-exclusion using GAMSTOP will be most effective if you do not try to work around the exclusion measures GAMSTOP has put in place.

When signing up to GAMSTOP you agree not to attempt to register new gambling accounts, log in to any of your existing accounts, or in any other way try to get around GAMSTOP's mechanisms during your self-exclusion.

You are responsible for any actions you take designed to get around any self-exclusion registered with GAMSTOP.

TalkBanStop

In December 2020, GamCare, Gamban and GAMSTOP launched the TalkBanStop campaign. The TalkBanStop campaign offers three free tools to help people stop gambling.

These are:

  • support via GamCare’s National Gambling Helpline
  • free Gamban blocking software
  • GAMSTOP self-exclusion

Find out more about TalkBanStop (opens in new tab).

How to check whether your money is protected

Any business you gamble with must tell you whether your money is protected in case they go bust.

There are three levels of protection. These are:

  1. not protected
  2. medium protection
  3. high protection.

All gambling businesses must make it clear which level applies to you. This includes both online and physical places you can gamble, like a betting shop or casino.

The business must give you this information in their terms and conditions.

You can read more about the levels of protection and what this means for you.

Where to find help and support

Remember that although many of us are having to limit contact with others, when it comes to support and advice about your gambling habits, you are not alone. Talking about the issues you are facing can help you to cope with the situation you are in.

Read more about the organisations who offer help and support for gambling or gambling-related issues.

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