9 Age Verification
Licensing Objective: Protecting children and other vulnerable persons, from being harmed or exploited by gambling
Gambling and the consumption of alcohol are permitted only for those over 18 years of age. In some bingo clubs there are different policies for dealing with customer age verification for gambling and for purchasing alcohol. The law in relation to gambling is specific in that:
Access to gambling by children and young persons is prohibited. This is detailed in both a Social Responsibility Code Provision and an Ordinary Code Provision as part of the LCCP. These provisions are quoted in 10.2 below.
9.2 Licensing Conditions and Code of Practice
The Social Responsibility Code Provision states:
Social responsibility code provision 3.2.5
Access to gambling by children and young persons
- Licensees must have and put into effect policies and procedures designed to prevent underage gambling, and monitor the effectiveness of these.
- This must include procedures for:
a) checking the age of apparently underage customers
b) refusing entry to any adult-only areas to anyone unable to produce an acceptable form of identification
c) taking action when there are unlawful attempts to enter the adult-only areas.
- Licensees must ensure that their policies and procedures take account of the structure and layout of their gambling premises.
- Licensees must not permit children or young people to gamble in the adults-only areas of premises to which they have access. If there is a ‘no under-18s’ premises policy, licensees must pay particular attention to the procedures they use at the entrance to the premises to check customers’ ages
- Licensees must take all reasonable steps to ensure that all staff understand their responsibilities for preventing underage gambling. This must include appropriate training which must cover:
a) all relevant prohibitions against inviting children or young persons to gamble on age-restricted products or to enter age restricted areas;
b) the legal requirements on returning stakes and not paying prizes to underage customers; and
c) procedures for challenging any adult who may be complicit in allowing a child or young person to gamble.
- Licensees must only accept identification which:
a) contains a photograph from which the individual can be identified
b) states the individual’s date of birth
c) is valid
d) is legible and has no visible signs of tampering or reproduction.
- Licensees must conduct test purchasing or take part in collective test purchasing programmes, as a means of providing reasonable assurance that they have effective policies and procedures to prevent underage gambling, and must provide their test purchase results to the Commission.
The Ordinary Code Provision states:
Ordinary code provision 3.3.2
Responsible gambling information – foreign languages
- The Commission considers acceptable forms of identification to include: any identification carrying the PASS logo (for example Citizencard or Validate); a driving licence (including a provisional licence) with photocard; or a passport.
- Licensees should require a person who appears to relevant staff to be under the age of 21 to be asked to produce proof of age, either at the point of entry to the gambling area or as soon as it comes to the attention of staff that they wish to access gambling facilities.
- Licensees should have procedures for dealing with cases where an adult knowingly or recklessly allows a child or young person to gamble. These procedures might include refusing to allow the adult to continue to gamble, removing them from the premises, and reporting the incident to the police or local authorities, or taking action where forged identification is produced. Procedures should be put into effect for dealing with cases where a child or young person repeatedly attempts to gamble on their premises, including oral warnings, reporting the offence to the Gambling Commission and the police, and making available information on problem gambling to the child or young person concerned.
- Procedures should be put into effect for dealing with cases where a child or young person repeatedly attempts to gamble on their premises, including oral warnings, reporting the offence to the Gambling Commission and the police, and making available information on problem gambling to the child or young person concerned.
- Where it is likely that customers’ young or otherwise vulnerable children will be left unattended on or adjacent to their premises, licensees should consider reminding customers of their parental responsibilities and assess whether there is a need to develop procedures for minimising the risk to such children.
- Licensees in fee categories A or B should consider how they monitor the effectiveness of their policies and procedures for preventing underage gambling (for example by taking part in a collective test purchasing programme) and should be able to explain to the Commission or licensing authority what approach they have adopted.
- In providing training to staff on their responsibilities for preventing underage gambling, licensees should have, as a minimum, policies for induction training and refresher training.
9.3 Valid Cards and Bingo Club Best Practice:
The legislation detailed above translates into the following procedures for bingo clubs.
It is a condition of membership of the Bingo Association that any person who appears to be 25 or under will be required to show a valid ID to verify their age. The ID should:
a) Contain a clear photograph of the applicant
b) Contain the individual’s date of birth
c) Be a valid document
d) Be legible and have no signs of tampering or reproduction
Acceptable ID is:
Any ID which contains a PASS logo such as:
a) Citizen Card or Validate
b) Young Scot card
c) Driving Licence
e) Firearms Certificate
f) Military Identification Cards
Not all forms of acceptable ID are proof that the holder is 18+. Please ensure that documents c) to f) above should also be checked to verify the holder’s age.
Validate UK aims to ensure that age restricted goods and services are only sold to those old enough to purchase them; it also helps those who may look younger than they are to prove their age.
A Genuine or Fake Citizen Card?
The descriptions below will help you identify a valid or invalid Citizen Card.
If the person cannot provide proof of age documentation then entry to the gambling premises must be refused.
A record of all customers that are in breach of the minimum age for gambling must be kept.
Details of the proof of age documents shown should be recorded (normally on the membership system where available) but this does not include serial numbers or account numbers, for security purposes and data protection.
There should be adequate notices on display indicating that no one under 18 will be permitted to gamble (mandatory licence condition in Scotland requires that the notice has to be a minimum of A4 size and visible to the customers when entering the premises). It is good practice to display notices stating that all customers who appear to be 25 or under will be challenged.
Suitably trained staff, barriers or controls should be in place to prevent the entry of underage persons.
If a customer has attempted to enter the premises with a person under the age of 18 in order to gamble, the adult should be barred. The underage person should receive a warning and given any appropriate responsible gambling leaflets. A person commits a criminal offence if he/she invites, causes, or permits a child or young person to gamble [S.46 of the Gambling Act 2005]. The current maximum penalty on indictment is 51 weeks imprisonment or a fine not exceeding £5,000, or both.
A record of the incident should be made and retained on site for your records and be available for inspections by the Local Authority or Gambling Commission.
If an under 18 has obtained entry for the purpose of gambling and a member of staff becomes aware, the following action must be taken:
a) The child or young person should be prevented from gambling further and removed from the premises following any action required in sections b and c below.
b) Any money paid for admission, fee or stake, including machines should be returned as soon as reasonably practical.
c) No prize or winnings may be given to a child or young person. If, however the person has received the prize money before it was discovered that they were under 18, section 83.3b of the Gambling Act 2005 states that money already paid out cannot be claimed back. Again, a record of the incident should be recorded by using the company specific form.
If a young person repeatedly attempts to gamble on the premises or when a verbal warning has been issued, an operator must immediately report the matter to the Gambling Commission, the police and licensing authority and where appropriate, the education welfare department.
9.4 Test Purchasing
The LCCP states that ‘Licensees must have and put into effect policies and procedures designed to prevent underage gambling, and monitor the effectiveness of these.’ The following section details how The Bingo Association works with its members, to provide an annual test purchasing exercise to support the monitoring of their underage gambling policies. By committing to this and subsequent sharing of the results with The Gambling Commission, Association members can demonstrate a high degree of self-regulation.
Note: Where test purchasing arranged by The Bingo Association is not being used, operators will need to be able to give evidence to the Commission and licensing authorities the means by which they are monitoring the effectiveness of their policies and procedures in this area.
The Bingo Association contract with a reputable external company to provide Age Verification Services
The chosen external company will use testers all aged 18 or 19, who will attempt to join or enter a club. It will be the club responsibility to challenge that test customer at the membership point. If there is no control at the admission point then the member must be challenged before they enter the gaming area. If the customer ID is not checked and verified during entry, the club will fail.
Testing will also be completed by test customers who already have a membership card. Where this is the case it is essential that procedures are in place as detailed in 10.4.5.
The age verification testing emphasis will be on challenges for those who appeared to be 25 and under. Customers should be challenged on their appearance, not only on whether they had a membership card.
Some of the sample questions that tester is asked are:
a) How many customers were on the site at the time of you r visit?
b) How many staff were on duty in the site at the time of your visit?
c) On entry, were you greeted by a member of staff?
d) When approaching the membership desk, were you asked if you were already a member?
e) At the membership desk, were you asked for ID?
f) If you were asked for ID, was it checked thoroughly?
g) Did the staff member make eye contact with you?
h) If eye contact was made, when was it FIRST made?
i) Was the staff member wearing a Think/ Challenge 25’ badge?
j) What was the name of the staff member (from the name badge)?
k) What was the gender of the staff member?
l) What was the approximate age of the staff member?
m) Please accurately describe the staff member (include hair colour and style, build, height and any distinguishing features).
Test purchasing and mystery shopping using underage testers can lawfully be used and may be carried out by the local Licensing Authority and the Gambling Commission. The Commission also continues to strongly encourage licensing authorities to use the powers conferred on them by the Gambling Act 2005, where there is evidence of weaknesses in underage gambling controls. Licensing authorities can, after a review of a premises licence, consider attaching conditions to that licence; for example, a condition that obliges the operator to commission third party age verification testing until their policies and procedures are shown to be effective; or the introduction of specific controls that must be provided at the gambling premises to reduce the risk of underage gambling, such as electronic door locking or controlled access to gaming machines.
9.5 Alcohol Licensing
There are different schemes relating to age restricted products which require an age challenge in respect of the perceived age of a customer, usually ‘Think 21’ in England and Wales or ‘Think 25’ in Scotland In Scotland there is an alcohol licensing condition that prescribes that the apparent age at which a customer is challenged is 25 (see 10.6). Your company will have a policy on this.
9.6 Age Verification Policy for the sale and supply of alcohol (England and Wales)
The premises licence holder or club premises certificate holder must ensure that an age verification policy applies to the premises in relation to the sale or supply of alcohol.
This must, as a minimum, require individuals who appear to the responsible person to be under the age of 18 to produce on request (before being served alcohol) identification bearing their photograph, date of birth, and a holographic mark. Examples of acceptable ID include photo card driving licences, passports or proof of age cards bearing the PASS hologram, Military identification cards, although other forms of ID which meet the criteria laid out above are also acceptable. The date of birth must be checked on these documents.
The premises licence holder or club premises certificate holder must ensure that staff (in particular staff who are involved in the supply/ sale of alcohol) are made aware of the existence and content of the age verification policy applied by the premises.
This condition does not exclude best practice schemes such as Think/Challenge 25 which require individuals who appear to be under an age which is greater than 18 to provide ID.
As a condition of membership all Bingo companies that are members of the Bingo Association operate a ‘Think/Challenge 25’ policy for gambling and the selling of alcohol which is sufficient to meet the licensing requirements.
9.7 Think/Challenge 25 (Scotland)
In October 2011, the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 was amended by the introduction of a new mandatory condition for all premises occasional licences. This provides that licensees must have an age verification policy in place in relation to the sale of alcohol on the premises.
The law in Scotland sets a policy to demand proof of age where it appears to the person selling the alcohol that the customer may be under the age of 25 years.
As a result of this change in the law, customers in any premises in Scotland licensed for the sale of alcohol, including pubs, clubs, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores may be asked to produce identification where they appear under the age of 25 in order to prove that they are over the age of eighteen and can lawfully purchase alcohol.
9.8 Employment of Under 18s
The Gambling Commission provide an Ordinary Code Provision 3.6.2 that deals with the Employment of under 18’s.
Operators should provide a policy statement or procedure acknowledging their adherence to the above provision.
Given the limited positions available that do not include licensed areas (including the bar) and potential issues surrounding the employment of under 18s, most employers choose not to employ them.
Great care should be taken to authenticate proof of age documentation of new members of staff where there is reason to doubt the authenticity of the date of birth supplied.