The online gambling industry has a commitment to keeping the general public safe when it comes to responsible gambling and prevention of underaged gambling. Operators dedicate significant time and attention to integrating the best technology for age verification checks and adhering to the (often changing!) rules within the jurisdictions in which they operate, although this is no easy feat.
Due to the global nature of our industry, working across multiple jurisdictions with different requirements is normal and we need solutions that are malleable, cost effective and easy to integrate.
“AgeChecked” is doing exactly what its name suggests- providing a solution for websites, including online gambling websites, to ensure they are compliant by law and offering their services to age-appropriate customers only. AgeChecked CEO Alastair Graham has created a system that minimizes the amount of friction when a customer registers, a technology that he believes differentiates AgeChecked from its competition.
Becky Liggero Fontana: Thank you so much for joining me, Alastair and for sharing your thoughts on how you can help the online gambling industry remain compliant. Lets start with your background and why you decided to build the technology behind AgeChecked?
Alastair Graham: AgeChecked came about from sitting with my nephew on a couch during a Christmas holiday. Via the apps on the TV, he began flicking through YouTube and stumbled across something inappropriate for his age. I couldn’t understand how there was no regulation stopping companies like YouTube from showing this content. So, I started thinking about the challenge of verifying age for online customers and noticed that this was a big issue across many online sectors, not just video sharing platforms. There was a requirement to protect children from age appropriate content but also the need for businesses to protect themselves by not allowing children to access to their product or service. At the time I was in the payments industry and having identified the potential for demand and growth, I created a team to build the tech solution.
The Gambling Commission later brought in changes to the LCCP in order to protect anyone under 18 from being able to gamble or have access to free-play games. So we saw a crossover between us protecting content online and the solutions that the igaming sector needed. That is pretty much how AgeChecked has evolved to date!
BLF: I love hearing backstories like this, thank you for sharing. Focusing on the iGaming industry specifically, the U.K.’s “72 hour age verification rule” has been recently scrapped by the UKGC, what does this mean for licensed UK-facing iGaming operators?
AG: I believe that the new regulations brought in by the Gambling Commission is a very positive one and something that the U.K. should be proud of; the industry should be doing whatever it can to stop children from being able to gamble. However, we understand the hesitation from operators – they require an effective solution that verifies the age of a player with little or no impact on their customer experience. Also with the industry now facing a far higher volume of regulatory checks, they need to justify the current costs of full KYC and AML for every player, whatever the spend which has a negative impact on player value.
We also recognised that moving the KYC checks to an earlier stage in the onboarding process, would increase the requirement for solutions that could achieve higher match rates in a seamless, fast customer sign-up process. This is something that AgeChecked continues to focus our development efforts on.
BLF: What about Free-to-Play operators and other FTP offerings? How can AgeChecked help with these?
AG: The new requirement for age verification for free play products means that we could introduce a range of solutions that we had built for other industries. These light touch, cost effective solutions, were specifically designed for the affiliate market where the age of the individual needed to be known, but not their identity. With the new requirement to stop underage users on free-play sites, these solutions became very relevant.
BLF: Can you elaborate on affiliates and their responsibility for ensuring the traffic they send is of legal age? What role can AgeChecked play in this?
AG: Affiliates in the igaming sector are not directly regulated by the Gambling Commission but still have to ensure that they comply with all age checking regulations. Failure to do so will have a knock-on effect to the operator who will be liable for any regulatory failures to verify that a player is over 18 years old. AgeChecked is working closely with a number of leading affiliates, offering them a simple age check solution to ensure that they stay on the right side of the Commission and to also protect the operators that they work with.
BLF: Lets talk more about the AgeChecked solution itself. How does it work?
AG: AgeChecked offers operators a safe, secure and effective solution designed to meet the requirements of the Gambling Commission as well as working collaboratively with operators to ensure they have the right customers who can enjoy gambling responsibly. We have a number of methods to be able to age verify players which is done in a secure and anonymous way. Essentially as soon as the check has been performed, we destroy the data being used for that process, retaining only the information required to demonstrate compliance – how we checked the data source and when we completed the check. So in essence we maintain an audit trail (but do not store or put at risk) data sensitive to our clients or their customers.
BLF: Aside from checking age, what other services can you offer iGaming operators?
AG: We are also able to provide gambling companies with a range of identification checks including player identification, qualification – including whether they are classified as PEP (Politically Exposed Person) or have any sanctions against them. We have a pipeline of development work also to increase the number of product offerings, such as the affordability check to ensure that a player is able to afford to gamble. A full KYC/AML service is what gaming operators will need to be implementing soon to help protect problem gamblers as well as underage.
BLF: Amazing Alistair, thank you again for your time and we look forward to watching your progress in this space!