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The members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have achieved record compliance rates for age verification checks, according to leading industry auditor Serve Legal.

Independent figures provided by Serve Legal, show bookmakers boasted a 91.4% age verification pass rate, across thousands of annual checks.

Meanwhile, casinos have a near-perfect pass rate of 98%.

This represents a 30% compliance increase across the audit volume since 2009, when Serve Legal began working with the regulated betting and gaming sector.

Regulated betting and gaming is now the leading sector in the UK for age verification compliance, better than supermarkets, convenience stores and petrol forecourts and delivering 10-15% higher compliance rates than the alcohol and lottery sectors annually.

BGC members take a zero-tolerance approach to betting by children and have significantly raised standards to protect young people.

The most popular forms of betting by children are legal arcade games like penny pusher and claw grab machines, bets between friends or family, and playing cards for money – not with BGC members.

BGC members enforce strict age verification on all their products to prevent underage gaming and will further strengthen age verification measures by increasing the checking age from “Think 21” to “Think 25” across betting shops and casinos. This policy will require anyone who is over 18 but looks under 25 to provide ID.

The BGC also funds the £10m Young People’s Gambling Harm Prevention Programme, delivered by leading charities YGAM and GamCare, which has reached more than two million 11 to 19-year-olds, and those working with them, in the UK.

Wes Himes, Executive Director of Standards and Innovation, said: “The BGC and our members are incredibly proud of these compliance rates, which put us ahead of our peers in every department.

“I am hugely grateful to Serve Legal for their work over the last 15 years, who have been instrumental in this change. Serve Legal, alongside our members and their dedicated staff, have led the charge in raising standards and setting a new benchmark for excellence.

“Bookmakers and casinos play a vital economic role on the UK’s hard-pressed high streets, as well as in the leisure and tourism sector. But economic contribution has to go hand-in-hand with the highest standards.

“We are delivering that, which should be welcome news to customers and communities across the country. Our work to raise standards goes on, and I expect these compliance rates to continue improving across the land-based betting and gaming sector.”

Serve Legal is the market-leading provider of ID and compliance testing services in the UK & Ireland. Providing extensive, independent audit services to national retailers, leisure operators and sports broadcasters, Serve Legal’s site audits help clients protect and improve operational and compliance standards.

Over the last 15 years, Serve Legal has conducted over 200,000 bookmaker and casino site audits, to ensure due diligence across a range of compliance issues for BGC members.

Audit checks were conducted at single-site businesses through to national brands with thousands of locations on UK high streets.

Serve Legal Client Manager Ali Deering said: “Compliance challenges can be greater for smaller independent bookmakers. The BGC have done admirable work in bringing them up to speed with the latest compliance support, to offer a level playing field with other big names in the industry. At Serve Legal we are proud to be supporting all of the BGC’s members, including casinos, with their due diligence and celebrate the tangible successes in each of them!”

The improvement comes as a result of new measures on customer interactions and improved “challenge on entry” standards for age verification.

Serve Legal CEO Ed Heaver said: “The Serve Legal team are incredibly proud of the work conducted by the BGC and their members. Their impressive dedication and work ethic has paid off in some highly impressive statistics, showing the 30% compliance increase across the industry over the time that we have worked in the sector. We thank the BGC for pioneering their mission of customer safety alongside ours.”

The BGC’s commitment to protecting young people extends beyond land-based betting and gaming, including recent commitments on advertising.

In 2019, BGC members introduced the whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sports before the 9 pm watershed, which led to the number of such ads being seen by children at that time falling by 97%.

BGC members have also introduced new age-gating rules for advertising on social media platforms, targeting ads to those aged 25 and over unless a platform can verifiably prove that its age-gating systems can prevent under-18s from accessing regulated betting and gaming advertising content.

The BGC has also written to the Government, asking them to urge social media companies to cooperate more closely with the betting and gaming industry in limiting marketing seen by young people and problem gamblers.

Recent data from the Gambling Commission published last year showed young people’s exposure to betting and gaming adverts and promotions had declined compared to the previous year.

Of 11 to 17-year-olds, 55% had seen regulated betting and gaming adverts offline, compared to 66% in 2022, and 53% had seen adverts online, compared to 63% in 2022.

The Government has previously stated research did not establish a causal link between exposure to advertising and the development of problem betting and gaming.

The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gaming, unlike the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards strictly employed by BGC members.

BGC members overall contribute £7.1bn to the economy and generate £4.2bn in tax while supporting 110,000 jobs.

Each month in Great Britain around 22.5m adults have a bet and the most recent NHS Health Survey for England estimated that 0.4% of the adult population are problem gamblers.

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