Audit Finds ID Check Rate at UK Bookmakers Has Improved


Posted: October 23, 2014

Updated: June 4, 2017

Undercover teenagers were sent into betting shops to find out if bookmakers take measures to prevent underage gambling.

Ten Bolton outlets belonging to land-based, online and mobile betting operator William Hill were put to a test by independent auditor Serve Legal, who found that employees checked 95.4% of the undercover teenage visitors for ID. At a national level, William Hill’s rate was much lower and stood at 86%; but even so the company did better than the bookmaking sector’s average rate of 82%.

Andrew Lyman, a spokesman for the bookmaker, told reporters: “We are delighted by the latest findings, but will not be sitting back and resting on our laurels. The staff in Bolton are doing a very effective job in identifying possible underage visitors to our shops.

“We operate a ‘Think 21’ policy which means that a challenge should be made to any individual who, on any objective view, appears to be 21 or younger.”

Continual improvement in the betting sector

Under British gambling laws, the legal age for gambling is 18. William Hill said the company dismisses employees who “fail to operate ‘Think 21’”.

Matt Eastwood, commercial manager at Serve Legal, explained: “Nationwide, William Hill is now on a par with supermarkets and convenience stores who have traditionally been the highest performing sector from facing checks from trading standards and police. The bookmaking sector has raised the bar significantly and improved performance in the past five years.”

Every year, Serve Legal carries out 90,000 shop visits. The auditor covers the entire retail sector, with the help of young employees aged 18 and 19. In 2009, a similar audit found the ID check rate was at only 50%.

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