BGC Members Achieve Record Compliance in Age Verification Checks

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced that its members have achieved record compliance rates for age verification checks, as reported by the independent auditor Serve Legal.

Serve Legal’s independent audit figures show that bookmakers achieved a 91.4% age verification pass rate across thousands of annual checks, while casinos reached a near-perfect pass rate of 98%. This represents a 30% increase in compliance since Serve Legal began auditing the regulated betting and gaming sector in 2009.

The regulated betting and gaming industry now leads the UK in age verification compliance, outperforming supermarkets, convenience stores, and petrol forecourts, and achieving 10-15% higher compliance rates than the alcohol and lottery sectors annually.

BGC members enforce strict age verification policies to prevent underage gambling, recently increasing the verification threshold from “Think 21” to “Think 25” across betting shops and casinos. This policy requires anyone appearing under 25 to provide ID, ensuring robust age checks.

Additionally, the BGC funds the £10m Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, delivered by YGAM and GamCare, reaching over two million 11 to 19-year-olds and their support networks in the UK.

Serve Legal, a market leader in ID and compliance testing in the UK and Ireland, has conducted over 200,000 bookmaker and casino site audits over the past 15 years. Their audits span from single-site businesses to national brands, ensuring compliance across a range of issues for BGC members.

Recent measures, including enhanced customer interactions and improved age verification standards, have contributed to these record compliance rates. The BGC’s commitment to protecting young people also extends to advertising practices. In 2019, BGC members implemented a whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sports before the 9pm watershed, resulting in a 97% reduction in such ads viewed by children.

Moreover, BGC members have introduced new age gating rules for social media advertising, targeting users aged 25 and over unless platforms can verifiably prevent under 18s from accessing betting and gaming ads. The BGC has also urged the government to encourage social media companies to collaborate more closely with the betting and gaming industry to limit marketing exposure to young people and problem gamblers.

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

The government has stated that research does not establish a causal link between advertising exposure and the development of problem gambling. The regulated betting and gaming industry remains committed to promoting safer gaming practices, contrasting sharply with the unregulated online black market, which lacks the stringent safeguards upheld by BGC members.

Overall, BGC members contribute £7.1bn to the economy and generate £4.2bn in taxes, supporting 110,000 jobs. Each month, approximately 22.5 million adults in Great Britain place bets, with the most recent NHS Health Survey for England estimating that 0.4% of the adult population are problem gamblers.

Wes Himes Executive Director 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, have led the charge in raising standards and setting a new benchmark for excellence.

“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.”

Serve Legal Client Manager, Ali Deering: “Compliance challenges can be greater for smaller independent bookmakers. The BGC have 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. At Serve Legal we are proud to be supporting all of the BGC’s members, including casinos, with their due diligence and celebrate the tangible successes in each of them!”

Serve Legal CEO, Ed Heaver: “The Serve Legal team are incredibly proud of the work conducted by the BGC and their members. Their impressive dedication and work ethic has 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. We thank the BGC for pioneering their mission of customer safety alongside ours.”

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