Source of Funds and Wealth Checks for Gambling
Online betting and casino gaming is something that most people do for leisure and that is precisely how it should be. Of course, most of us don’t really consider much of what happens “behind the scenes”, so to speak. And why would we? After all, as long as everything is operating as it should, there’s little need for this to be investigated. Yet, some players may have come across a moment in their gaming lives when a source of funds (SOF) check is needed.
What exactly is this and why is it required? Well, that’s what we’re here to inform you on – just in case it ever becomes a necessity for you. At least this way, you’ll know what you need to have in your possession to proceed through with this type of check.
Source of funds checks are a legal requirement for people who deposit a high amount of money or make an uncharacteristic deposit. It is used to prevent the gambling industry being used for the proceeds of crime and to prevent people gambling with money that is not theirs, they cannot afford or has been obtained through credit. There are times though when SOF checks can lead to money being withheld and when the funds are legitimate this can be frustrating.
What Is a Source of Funds Check?
While many online casinos and other betting sites have specific rules and processes in place for all players, a source of funds check isn’t something that takes place all the time. Instead, there are specific occasions where this will come into effect and becomes a necessity. Essentially, the name of it pretty much explains what it is. A SOF check is in place to verify where your funds came from.
Utilising an example to provide a detailed description of why this would come into effect at a casino. Say you have deposited £50 consistently at an online casino and placed bets averaging about £2 each time you have played, then this is considered to be the norm of your gameplay. However, let’s say that in an instant, your account experiences a deposit of £1000 at random one day, and you proceed with placing bets that are of £20 per round. That stands out as being quite the alternative to your normal routine. Alternatively you may sign up and want to make a high initial deposit, equally this will also get you noticed for a source of wealth check.
In these circumstances, an online casino may notice the change and it may be flagged for this reason. It is at this point that a platform may proceed with the SOF check on your account. Why? Because the activity stands out as being potentially fraudulent or could be linked to problem gambling. The chances are that you have simply found yourself with some extra money to utilise on your favoured pastime. However, an online bookie or casino wouldn’t know this. As long as you can prove that you have the necessary funds to cater to gambling in such a way, there is little to worry about. At the end of the day, a SOF check is for your own benefit.
The main thing an SOF check will do is make sure that the money belongs to you, to do this you need to show where it came from. It cannot be from someone else (unless a gift), a loan, credit, from a business or from any illegal source.
Now that you know why a casino or sportsbook may require a SOF check, there needs to be some information on how this would be conducted. What can you use as an adequate SOF check? How long does it take? What happens after you have submitted the necessary information for this?
The UK Gambling Commission Stance
Any gambling site that is operating legally in the United Kingdom should be in possession of a valid licence from the UK Gambling Commission. Without this, the Commission considers sites illegal, and in the 2018/19 period, it tackled 31 instances of illegal gambling operations. As part of the licences held by the various gambling sites, certain objectives must be met and adhered to completely. One of the many rules is that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way at the respective sites. Furthermore, gambling should be prevented from being used as a source of crime or disorder or being associated with such.
Naturally, operators of online gambling sites need to incorporate stringent steps to ensure that they adhere to these rules. Any site found to be flouting those rules can be heavily fined, as has been seen before, or can even lose their licence.
If a bookmaker or casino operator asks you to go through a SOF check, then it’s also to cover their backs for those Gambling Commission rules. Let’s take a closer look at what can be used in order to prove where your funds came from.
What Evidence Needs to Be Provided for a SOF Check?
If you’re contacted by an online gaming site to provide details of a source of funds, what does this mean for you? Well, the contact may come through email, telephone or potentially through a message directly on the site if you are online at the time. Sites usually inform you of this check before it allows you to proceed with playing with the funds you have deposited into your account, these funds will be 'locked' until the check is completed.
Upon learning of the need for a SOF check, you may need to submit certain pieces of information at the platform’s request. The operator may ask for one or more of the following to confirm that your funds are coming from a legitimate location and that you can afford to bet with the money you have deposited:
- Your occupation and the salary received
- A copy of a recent payslip from your employer
- A recent bank statement copy which displays your salary being paid in
- A recent credit card statement, displaying your name and payments going in and out
- An e-wallet statement that shows your name, account number and payments in and out
- A copy of a statement displaying a recent deposit into your bookmaker/casino account, confirming your own ownership of the related account
It’s not uncommon for platforms to have details relating to SOF checks in their terms and conditions. The Bet365 sportsbook and casino, for example, features a few sentences relating to such rules:
“In order to verify the source of the funds you use to bet with, we may ask you to provide additional information and documentation that shows you have sufficient funds to support your gambling activity.
This might include information such as your occupation and salary, supported by documentation such as a copy of your bank statement or payslip.
Although we may require employment details, we will not contact your employer as part of these checks.
We will let you know what information or documentation we require as part of the enhanced verification process.”
Generally speaking, you should be able to send the copies of the requested documents and any additional information to the casino/sportsbook via email. Alternatively, some sites provide the possibility of you uploading the documents via the platform itself. In theory, your chosen casino should provide you with this information of how to send the requested details to them.
If you don’t proceed with completing the SOF check as requested, then there is the potential for your account to be heavily restricted or even closed. The money could also be held if you cannot prove it is yours and legal.
It is important that you tell the truth when asked where money came from. If, for example, it is not your money or obtained through credit and you lie about that fact and are found out then they can withhold those funds while they investigate.
What Sources Do Not Count as Acceptable Funds?
If you are ever in doubt about depositing money at a gambling site, then the chances are that it’s not something you really want to proceed with doing. However, there are some people who don’t consider it to be a negative in any way. Yet, there are certain sources of funds that shouldn’t be utilised for gambling purposes. If you were to go through a SOF check and these sources were highlighted, the chances are that the casino wouldn’t accept the deposit and it would be refunded.
Personal Loans and Credit Cards
There’s a high temptation from some people to take out a personal loan and use some or all of the funds for gambling purposes. There have been numerous instances of people utilising loans from various places to fund their gambling habits. One of the more recent happenings in this field saw a man begin gambling around five years ago with money on his credit card. He went on to lose £2,000 this way and then ended up gambling with five different credit cards, maxing them out and taking out additional loans to support the habit.
A personal loan should never be utilised for accessing online gambling sites and playing games. Gambling is addictive for many people, and if you were found to be depositing money at a site that came from a personal loan, generally speaking the casino should halt all activity from this. While it’s possible to deposit funds from a loan, it’s not advisable and if you’re discovered as using this as your source of funds, an operator should take action.
The use of credit cards for gambling was made illegal in 2020 and it is no longer allowed to use these to deposit funds. This includes using credit cards through intermediary eWallets or to purchase vouchers. You are restricted from using any source of credit for gambling, whether that be through a loan or other means.
If you’ve just lost your job by being made redundant, one would think that you’d have more important things to spend that redundancy money on. Gambling shouldn’t really be anywhere near the top of your list of things to do upon being made redundant. Unfortunately, some people have managed to get away with this in the past, as a report regarding MansionBet in April of 2020 confirmed.
The player in question forwarded a copy of a redundancy settlement to MansionBet at one point when he was requesting free bets while promising to deposit large sums into his account once the redundancy pay-out arrived. This activity stood out to the Gambling Commission as being associated with problem gambling, although MansionBet proceeded to not only allow him to bet, but upgrade him to VIP status as well.
If a player is using redundancy money to deposit and place large bets at an online gambling site, this should set alarm bells ringing. This should not be considered as a veritable source of funds, and any check should verify this.
Money from Friends and Family
Money given to you by friends and family is basically yours to do with as you please – if it’s given as a gift. If a friend or family member loans you some money, it’s a bit of a different story. Generally speaking, a loan wouldn’t be given by someone you know unless you were suffering through difficult times. It would be exceptionally irresponsible of you to use that money for gambling purposes, and quite insulting for the loaner.
Of course, that’s not something that the online casino can really comment on unless you’re asked for a SOF check to take place. In that instant, you will need to inform the site that you were given the money by a friend or family member and be sure that you state whether this was a gift or a loan. The reason why is because if you’re taking loans from family members to use for online betting, this is also a sign of problem gambling. Obviously, a loan would provide you with additional money for depositing and wagering with, so this would stand out to an online casino and the likelihood is that a SOF check would occur.
If, on the other hand, you have been gifted money from such a source, then you can go about using this as you wish. This is due to the fact that gifts aren’t meant to be paid back – so you can utilise the funds as you choose.
Money from a Business
It is never okay to take money from a business to use for online betting purposes. Never. That’s not to say that various people haven’t tried and succeeded in doing this before. Essentially, this amounts to stealing first of all, which is punishable by law. A case arose last year of a man blowing £370,000 on gambling at Betway, which he stole from a cake business that he was employed at. It was discovered that the man took up to £30,000 each month from his employer over three-and-a-half years.
Money that is stolen will never pass a SOF check, due to the fact that it’s stolen. An online operator should look at this and immediately contact the authorities as well as problem gambling charities. The only money from a place of employment that you should be using (and can prove you’re able to afford) is that which you earn through your salary.
When SOF Checks Are A Problem
While the rules are in place to protect the punter and the industry as a whole the level of customer service in relation to SOF checks vary widely. Many reputable operators perform wealth checks quickly there are many instances where this is not the case, which can leave funds frozen for the customer.
There are examples where companies have taken too long to perform these check, have asked for excessive information or continued to withhold funds even when sufficient evidence is provided. Customer money is held in separate accounts within companies, another licensing requirement, which means your money will not go missing but at the same time that is not much consolation if they are your funds, they are legitimate and they are frozen.
It is the responsibility of the UKGC to regulate gambling firms and therefore one option is to contact them if you believe a company has contravened their licensing terms. The commission does not deal with individual customer complaints but if there is a licensing failure they will.