In the context of gambling, concerns about the welfare of children and adolescents have long resulted in the imposition of a minimum legal gambling age, and this is no different in the online context. What is particularly noteworthy here is the success of responsible online gambling operators in establishing processes for effective online age verification, when many other online service providers and retailers have failed to implement such thorough measures. Given escalating levels of political concern and periodic media-led moral panics, this is subject area where the online gambling industry may have valuable ‘good practice’ lessons to share with both other operators in the adult content/services sector, and with ordinary retailers selling goods or services, some of which may be age-limited.
Against this backdrop, this one-year research project focuses specifically on the operation and efficacy of age verification techniques as employed by the European online gambling industry, comparing this to examples of practice in other industry sectors. The online gambling industry’s example demonstrates that a pragmatic approach requiring either provision of documentation or cross-checking with official identity registers or databases can be a successful alternative.
After an initial review of the regulatory requirements for age verification measures in online gambling across Europe, the project will undertake in-depth analysis of age verification measures in four countries across three different sectors. The countries to be studied are UK, France, Spain, and Denmark, allowing for comparison of good practice across different national regulatory environments. The three sectors to be reviewed will be online gambling, online gaming, and e-commerce. In each case, analysis will seek to establish the nature, efficacy, and cost of the measures in place and the indicative drop-out rate, as well as regulatory and political responses. The overall aim will be to identify examples of ‘good practice’ that could be adopted by other online industry sectors or in other countries.
This project is supported by bwin.party.