At some point, players have to prove who they are
Here at OSGA we have handled thousands of complaints in our 21+ years. And often we wind up with a problem from a player who was either lied to when he signed up or just thought that by using Bitcoin he could remain completely anonymous betting online. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In recent weeks we have had several problems where sportsbook players presented invalid documents or refused to provide them at all. But, in all cases, none of the players had to provide any proof of ID when signing up a new account. Players also didn't need to show any ID to send in funds via Bitcoin. One player insists that he was told he would never have to send in ID or proof of residency. The other common theme for these players' issues? The problem only arose when they asked for a payout.
The reality is that sportsbooks and casinos online just want customers and players who deposit funds. Most players lose, so the general consensus is to allow players access the means to gamble as quickly and easily as possible. So, many online sportsbooks only ask for a name, email address and phone number to get started. Sometimes sprinkled in there is a phone number and perhaps state and zipcode. For the most part, this tactic works out well for everyone. Players can get started very easily and feel somewhat anonymous and since most players are not winning enough to withdraw, there is no need for the gambling house to verify a players' identity.
But for the gambling house there is a downside to letting players get started so easily. There is no way for the sportsbook to guarantee that Mr. Smith really is John Smith. So, some of the larger, more established sportsbooks, like Heritage and 5Dimes, ask for all of the goods, including full address and phone number. The top sportsbooks have enough customers that they would like to get to know who is playing with them, before a new player ever sends in a nickle.
It's a KYC thing, know your customer. Fraud became the #1 problem when betting on the Internet exploded and today a sportsbook can track you, your devices and your betting patterns. So, even though they may, or may not, know your tendencies, they still want proof of your identity.
Problems arise when players win
Gambling shops expect that most players will lose and rarely withdraw, that's just reality. But there is also not one shop anywhere in the world that is not going to send out a payout without some kind of personal verification from the winning player.
Typically a driver's license or some form of government issued ID will suffice, but if a sportsbook has any inkling that Mr. Smith is not John Smith, they will ask for additional documentation. This could range from a utility bill to some more invasive digging. The popular one we have heard of recently (and at more than just online betting shops) is a selfie with the ID and a current dated newspaper.
If any of these requested documents aren't sent, the sportsbook will not issue a payout. If they want to dig deeper and examine every nook and cranny of everything sent in, they will. The dreaded, "Your account is under review", message will appear in your online account.
If you have a Facebook account or use Google on daily basis, by now you should just expect that your online self is well known. It is that same with your online betting shop. Expect to have to send in documents to prove who you are. Expect that a big winning run will get you some extra scrutiny. And expect the online operation to be the one holding all the cards, and your money, until they know their customer.
Check back every week for The Betting Scene as we will highlight new items of interest in the world of online sports betting.