It continues to be one of the hottest discussion points in the betting industry – and will be so for the months and years ahead too.
Should you have to be able to prove your income before you can have a bet of a certain size? Should you have to be able to show you can afford to wager a certain amount per week or month?
That was one of the subjects of the UK government’s review of the sports betting sector, with the White Paper they publish expected to demand that bookies secure some kind of earnings evidence that punters are only wagering what they can afford to lose.
It’s all about their social responsibility obligations.
Even if bookmakers are tasked with requesting proof of income before you bet, an interesting question to ponder is are you under any legal obligation to actually give it to them?
What are Affordability Checks?
There are a few reasons why the bookmakers ask you for proof of income, with the most pertinent of those being that they are likely – as part of the legislative review of the industry – to be legally forced to do so.
But this has been a long time coming, ever since the Know Your Customer (KYC) checks were enforced.
These are required so that bookies:
- a) know that you can afford to stake as you are, and
- b) are not engaging in money laundering, other nefarious practices or using a third party’s funds
You may consider this to be invasive and an infringement of your right to bet as you see fit, but unfortunately these checks are mandated on the bookies by the UK Gambling Commission, the industry regulator.
Sometimes, the checks will be limited to you providing a form of identification, such as a driver’s licence, passport or government-issued I.D. card.
But when it comes to proving your income, more details are required….
What Proof of Funds Can I Provide?
First things first, there are a number of ways you can show your income and proof of funds.
It means providing your bookmaker with a copy of any of the following:
- A bank statement
- A payslip
- Dividends or pension received
- A trust deed
- Dated proof of award or payment received
Those documents should satisfy the requirements of the bookies, who are forced to ask for proof of income as part of their UK Gambling Commission licensing requirements.
Bookmakers may also perform ‘soft’ background checks on your financial history. This open source data, which can be requested from the National Office of Statistics, can be used to act as a trigger if you suddenly start betting more money than you have in the past – a customer support representative may contact you to discuss appropriate deposit or staking limits.
How Do I Send Proof of Funds Information?
Nowadays, most bookmakers have a dedicated system via which you can upload a photo of your documents via their website or app.
If such a set-up isn’t available with your bookmaker, you may instead be asked to email a copy of your documents to them instead.
To avoid the frustration of having to re-send the images multiple times, make sure you get a clear, well-lit photo that clearly displays the most important information.
They shouldn’t ever need to have a physical copy of the original document, so be wary if this sort of thing is encouraged, especially if you bet with smaller or lesser known brands.
To keep yourself and your information safe, only ever bet with a company who is licensed and registered with the UKGC. You can check this on the UKGC website.
Do You Have to Provide Proof of Funds?
Now here’s a heavily nuanced question…
You are under no obligation provide your proof of funds data to your chosen bookmaker. But if you don’t, they cannot fulfil their KYC requirements – part and parcel of their licensing criteria.
At this point, they can restrict access to your account until you have conformed to the affordability checks. This is for their own protection as well as yours; they can face massive fines if they don’t handle this by the book.
So if you don’t provide proof of funds, you may well enter a Mexican stand-off… and one which will ultimately prevent you from betting.
Given that all UK licensed bookmakers have to fulfil their KYC objectives, it’s highly unlikely you will be able to get a bet on anywhere if you refuse to provide proof of funds information.
Unfair? Perhaps, but unfortunately it’s just one of those unavoidable things.
If you want to know more about proof of funds checks, there’s some helpful information available at this page of the Gambling Commission’s website.