One year ago, SBR reported on online sportsbooks and their Know Your Customer (KYC) policies. There were both positive and negative reactions from players and sportsbooks. It is a touchy subject, and regardless of the side of the counter you stand on, those who are up to no good — be it a slow-pay sportsbook or conniving player straddling the lines of what's allowable — might use this information for purposes other than what's intended.
The fact of the matter is online sportsbooks don't always get it right, and players are not always who they say they are. But this is no chicken or egg scenario; fortunately it is one where cooler heads should always prevail.
Whether the online sportsbook you are betting with is licensed in Malta by the local gaming authority or in the UK by the Gambling Commission, verifying accounts is an essential part of the signup process and ultimately protects both the player and house. How efficiently the process unfolds can vary greatly between sportsbooks, and this is where players submitting their feedback through sportsbook complaints and the SBR posting forum is vital to shaping SBR ratings.
Why is KYC needed?
Red tape and satisfying regulatory guidelines aside, if your credit card was stolen, wouldn't you expect the company who allowed potentially thousands in purchases to at least ask to see some ID? In the heat of the moment after making a big score, it is understandable that players feel frustrated by what they perceive as being delay tactics. Nobody enjoys having a balance sit in an account that you can't access the very second you want, but players must understand that sending in documentation and verifying your identity cannot be avoided.
The industry has evolved. Technology has advanced, and fraud is more prevalent than ever. With hackers like the group at Anonymous being able to breach the Sony PlayStation network and access an untold amount of credit card data, common identity theft seems like a walk in the park. This is in part why sportsbooks need to establish prior to withdrawal that you are the individual who you claim to be. The silver lining in all of this is that you will only need to go through the process once.
What documents do I need to show?
Photo ID is a must. Public library cards won't cut it, either. You will have to show some form of government issued ID, be it a driver's license or national passport. Do not bother depositing anywhere, less you are doing so at a bitcoin sportsbook that does not even confirm your identity, unless you have a current (non-expired) form of photo ID.
A utility bill is almost always asked for. The bill must be in your name and often times dated within the last three months. Hang on to your utility bills or make printed copies of them if you pay everything online, and be ready to scan and upload to your online sportsbook.
Additionally some online sportsbooks will confirm your address by mailing a unique token to your registered address. PO boxes are not accepted. If you live in a country that does not have a reliable mail system, such as Costa Rica for example, you might want to notify your online sportsbook ahead of time so that your account is cleared for play while waiting for the letter to arrive.
If you're depositing by credit card, a high resolution copy of the front and back of the card will be required, along with a signed authorization form permitting the online sportsbook to run the credit card for amounts up to a limit specified by you. Do not blacken out the card's details to prevent unnecessary delays in verifying your account.
How to speed up the KYC process
Flash drives are useful. Not only are most modern drives encryptable, you can save all the hassle of rifling through your belongings to find your passport and scanning the same credit card over and over again when the request is made by each sportsbook. If you do not have a flash drive, keeping a copy of your documents in a password protected folder on your computer is a good idea.
To avoid delay come withdrawal time, it is a good practice to provide your ID and documents immediately after depositing. By the time you win a few bets you will most likely already have been verified and you will have the peace of mind knowing that there will be no downtime between making a withdrawal and having your request processed.
Players who fall under the most scrutiny
The fact is that players residing in countries with low GDP's will be scrutinized more than the average Joe in a first world nation whose documents appear to be in order and easily verifiable. In some countries where there is no standardized formatting for addresses or major well-known banking institutions, players might experience delays and additional requirements regardless of their compliance or intentions.
SBR suggests that players who fall into the above bucket remain calm and polite during their correspondences with sportsbooks. Most often, those who have nothing to hide will be out of the sportsbook's hair in no time and on their way to wagering and being paid.
The second group of players who typically are interrogated and prodded more than the average sports bettor are women. In some of the sportsbook complaints SBR has mediated, ladies have had their accounts closed for either failing or being unwilling to participate in random phone quizzes concerning their wagering history. The same goes for players who were unable to oblige requests to appear on Skype video to answer questions about their play.
When sportsbooks are suspicious about the identity of the player in question, another common request is for the player to photograph themselves holding their ID or a piece of paper with their account number visible. Regardless of how ridiculous some of the requests might sound, being uncooperative will not get you paid any faster and will only reinforce the sportsbook's belief that there is foul play involved.
Seeking Help with a Sportsbook
Players who feel they have reasonably complied with a sportsbook's request to complete the KYC process and are still having trouble confirming their account are asked to submit a sportsbook complaint form. You can also tweet @SBRreview about the problem you're having or register a free account to post in the SBR Sportsbook & Industry forum.