When you become a member of an online sportsbook, you will begin by filling out a registration form which includes a few personal details such as your name and address.
At that point, you may feel that you are all ready to go. After making your initial deposit, you might jump right into making your first wagers.
When you try to make your first withdrawal however, you run into a snag. The customer service representative contacts you and says, “We cannot process your withdrawal until you complete the KYC procedure.”
Your emotions at this point could range anywhere from frustration to panic, depending on how you feel about sharing information.
Or you might be confused, as you may have no idea what “KYC” even means. You simply know that the sports betting site is demanding that you fax them documents verifying your identity.
What is KYC, and why should you have to send these types of documents? Is it even safe to verify your identity online? In this guide, I will explain what KYC policies are, and will attempt to answer as many common questions as possible regarding identity verification on online sportsbooks.
What is KYC?
KYC is an abbreviation which stands for “Know Your Customer.” Sometimes, it also stands for “Know Your Client.”
Traditionally, KYC policies were put in place by banks and other financial institutions. Their purpose largely revolved around the prevention of money laundering and similar schemes.
Many other types of companies also need to be wary about the potential for customers to abuse their services with criminal intent. This is particularly true on the internet.
For that reason, it is now commonplace for online businesses in a variety of sectors to put KYC policies in place.
Naturally, sportsbooks are among the online businesses which need these types of procedures in order to prevent various forms of fraud.
Take note that you will not always see the phrase “Know Your Customer” or the abbreviation “KYC.” Sometimes, the process will simply be called “identity verification.” In all cases, it is the exact same thing, and it is being done for the same reasons.
Frequently Asked Questions about KYC and Identity Verification
Now that you know the basics, let’s go over some frequently asked questions on this topic.
Why do I need to verify my identity?
There are three basic reasons that you need to verify your identity on a sports betting website. The first reason is to protect the sportsbook itself. The second reason is to protect other customers. The third reason is to protect you.
As a simple example, consider the rampant issue of identity theft. Identity theft has become something of an epidemic worldwide.
Imagine if somebody were to steal your identity and use it to gamble online. This could result in numerous issues compromising your security, not the least of which is that your government may believe that you owe taxes on that person’s winnings.
Identity verification helps prevent problems like this from happening. So it is in everybody’s best interests, including yours.
How often do I need to verify my identity?
If you are lucky, you should only need to verify your identity a single time before you place your first withdrawal request. Many customers never need to go through the process again.
Quite a few customers do, however. There can be a number of different reasons why the process would need to be repeated at some point in the future. Some examples include:
Some crime-related issue actually does crop up. A site might for example have concerns that somebody is trying to steal your identity.
You are making a very large withdrawal. Say you just won a massive accumulator bet and now are trying to withdraw your winnings. Since you are requesting to pull such a huge amount of money out of your account, the site is going to want to make sure that you are the one initiating the request.
Your banking details have changed. Once again, this may cause the verification team at the site to question if you are who you say you are. To protect you, they will ask you to prove it.
There has been some kind of policy change. Maybe an additional form of documentation is now required which was not when you signed up. The site may be asking you and everyone else to provide it.
Because these issues can arise, it is smart to keep copies of your documents at the ready. Keep them somewhere which is secure, but still easy for you to access at a moment’s notice. That way you will have less of a hassle to deal with if you need to repeat the KYC process.
What documents do I need to submit?
The exact documents you need to provide may vary from one site to the next, but in general, you will need to provide:
- Proof of your residential address
- Proof of your identity
This is quite similar to other identity verification processes you may have undergone before in other contexts.
To prove your address, a copy of your driver’s license or ID should be sufficient. In some cases, you may also need to provide a copy of a residential bill (i.e. a bill for your cable plan or your water or power).
Your driver’s license or ID also fulfills the identity verification requirement in most cases. A passport also usually works. Some sites may take other forms of documentation as well. In many cases, just one document will be needed, but some sites may require you to submit additional documents.
A lot of online bettors say that the biggest hassle with identity verification is not gathering documents, but simply sending a copy which the site considers to be suitable. Make certain that all the words are legible and that the photograph is not too dark or light in your copy. Problems in these areas may result in delays.
Is it safe to verify my identity?
That depends on where you are doing so. You should only submit proof of identity to websites that you can trust.
Scammers can make use of such documentation as part of identity theft.
Trustworthy sports betting sites will protect you from identity theft rather than exposing you to it. They will have strong encryption algorithms in place to make sure that the documentation which you share with them remains secure.
Do bitcoin sportsbooks make me verify my identity?
That also depends on the site. Many punters assume that sportsbooks which exclusively or largely deal in cryptocurrencies will allow them to be totally anonymous while they are gambling. This is rarely the case.
Cryptocurrency holdings and gains are subject to taxation in many jurisdictions. For this and other reasons, websites which accept deposits or submit withdrawals in cryptocurrency form are going to want to protect themselves and their customers by conforming to the same KYC policies which their traditional fiat-dealing counterparts use.
While there are exceptions, but in general, you should be prepared to submit proof of your identity and address even when betting on bitcoin-only websites. You also should be prepared to pay taxes on your winnings if that is applicable in your jurisdiction.
How long does identity verification take?
That depends on the sportsbook where you are getting your identity verified, the procedures they use, the quality and thoroughness of the documents you submit, and other factors.
On the fast side, your identity could be verified and the process completed in under 1 business day. On the slower side, a week is not unusual. Most sites will probably get the process done in several days.
Additional Tips and Best Practices for Identity Verification
Do not wait to verify your identity. Do it right after you join.
You usually will not be asked to verify your identity right after you’ve signed up for an account. You may not even be asked to verify your identity when you connect your payment method and make your first deposit.
Usually, you will be prompted to submit your documents upon your first withdrawal request. At this time, you will need to submit the required proof of address and identity before the sportsbook will release your winnings.
This can be frustrating when you just want to cash out, and it catches a lot of customers off guard. Rather than letting this happen, it is recommended that you simply verify your identity right away after you have registered. You can then make that first withdrawal without any bumps in the road.
Do not lie about your identity when you fill out your registration. It will cause problems later.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should be honest when you fill out the registration fields initially. This can be easy to forget if you are in the habit of putting in fictitious information when you join websites.
If you are inconsistent with the information you provide, you may have some explaining to do when you talk to customer service about the documents that you eventually end up sending.
Keep your documents on hand for the future.
As mentioned earlier, you might need to verify your identity again. What is the best place to keep copies of your documents? You could store them on your computer, but that might leave them vulnerable to hackers.
A better option would be an external hard drive. Another option would simply be to lock them inside a safe in your home. You can keep paper copies or you can keep them on a USB drive.
Ensure that the copies you are submitting are high in quality and easy to read/view.
Again, this cannot be emphasized enough. If the copy you provide is perceived as being too blurry or dark, you’ll have to submit another one. There could be delays before you even find out what the problem is and have a chance to resolve it. This could make the entire process take days longer than it should.
To get around this, either use a high-quality copier or fax machine, or photograph your documents yourself. If you do the latter, either take your photos outdoors or in a setting with bright, well distributed lighting. Make sure that you do not block the light source while you are taking the photos, casting a shadow. You can also try to fix any issues in post-processing before you forward them to the site.
Do not be afraid to follow up with customer service.
If days have gone by and there has been no forward progress with the KYC process, you have two options. You can either sit and continue to wait and hope for the best, or you can reach out to a customer service representative to find out what is going on.
While waiting sometimes works, you can usually move your case forward faster if you take the time to follow up. It is entirely possible that you have been forgotten, in which case nothing is going to happen until you get in contact.
Contacting the team also lets them know that you are trying to get a move on processing the paperwork so that you can get your money. Once they realize that the matter is urgent to you, they may put more effort into completing the process in an efficient manner.
Pick a site to wager on which is known for high quality customer support and fast KYC procedures to begin with.
One more tip is simply to be selective about where you decide to bet. There are a lot of other criteria to take into consideration of course, but you can try to choose sportsbooks which have reputations for fast and easy KYC procedures.
Avoid websites with slow, unresponsive support teams, and favor those which are quick to answer questions and address concerns.
Make KYC Work For You, Not Against You
Know Your Customer procedures can be a hassle, no doubt about it—but they do not have to be if you familiarize yourself with them and you plan ahead.
Choose great betting sites to join, read up on their documentation requirements, and submit your paperwork right away after you register. Keep copies handy, and follow up with the team if necessary.
With a bit of luck, the process should be fast and easy, and you should be able to start making withdrawals right away. Need help finding sites to join? See our recommendations.
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