Only one third say they're "very satisfied" with the process

Study: Online Gamblers Unhappy With Registration, Verification Process

An industry report released Wednesday shows that online gambling companies are losing potential customers to frustrations with the sign-up process.

The study from Trulioo found that customer satisfaction for online gambling registrations in the US and UK is lower than that for other sectors like finance and retail. Worse, over half of gamblers surveyed reported abandoning the sign-up process partway through.

Online gambling sites in general — and online casinos in particular — have a high acquisition cost. Losing potential customers during the registration process is therefore an expensive problem.

Trulioo is a Canadian company that provides online identity confirmation and document validation to help companies comply with anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) regulations. Such regulations are most commonly found in the online gambling and financial sectors.

For the study, Trulioo surveyed over 2,000 online gamblers in the US and UK. Naturally, its motivation for producing the study was to highlight the need for its services. Even with that caveat, however, the study paints a clear picture of an industry that needs to work harder to streamline registration processes and increase customer trust.

Online gambling sees lowest sign-up satisfaction

The study’s findings include a number of interesting statistics. Perhaps the most critical of these is that the registration experience for online gambling sites seems to be uniquely bad.

The survey asked respondents about their experiences registering for accounts in four sectors: online gambling, online marketplaces, finance and retail. Only 33% said they were “very satisfied” with the online gambling sector — less than any other sector. Furthermore, 15% reported being “not particularly satisfied” or “not at all satisfied,” while the rate for those responses was 10% or less for the other three sectors.

Online marketplaces received the best overall grade, with 44% of respondents saying they were very satisfied with their experiences with such sites. Only 35% reported abandoning a marketplace sign-up process partway through compared to 53% for online gambling.

Conversely, reported experiences in the retail sector were almost as bad as those for gambling.

So, what is it that online marketplaces and financial businesses are doing right? What is it that retailers and online gambling sites are getting wrong?

A question of trust?

The study asked participants what factors might cause them to abandon the account creation process for an online gambling site. Two of the top three answers suggest that discomfort with disclosing information is a major problem.

Almost half said that they would walk away if the site requested too much personal information, while 40% said they would do so if there was a lack of transparency about why the site needed such information.

Though the latter was only the third most popular response, it cuts to the heart of the matter.

Sites request such information for security reasons, and security is also the top concern for players themselves. A full 87% said that security during sign-up is “very important” — more than any other consideration. That includes such things as speed and convenience.

The problem, then, isn’t that the players see security as unnecessary. It’s that they don’t see the identity verification process as being for their own security. Of those who said security was very important, 84% named identity theft as their greatest concern in that regard.

That concern is especially evident when it comes to providing selfie photos or scanned ID:

  • 42% would not be willing to provide a scan of their driver’s license or photo.
  • 50% would not be willing to submit a selfie.

In both cases, however, willingness increased significantly if the stated reason for the request was to protect against identity theft or payment fraud rather than simple identity verification.

Speed matters for gambling registrations

The second most common reason for abandoning a signup process was multiple failures to confirm the user’s identity. Further down the list, but still common, were other delays in the process or a lack of transparency about how long it would take.

The study found that lack of trust and lack of expediency aren’t separate issues; one compounds the other.

Specifically, the need to wait for a response after submitting information seems to compound anxiety about providing it. Solutions allowing real-time identity verification (such as those Trulioo provides) do seem to mitigate the problem, according to the study.

More than three quarters of respondents said that they would “definitely” or “possibly” be more willing to share personal data with a site offering real-time verification than one with a waiting period. Similarly, 75% said they would place more trust in such a brand.

A whopping 86% said that real-time verification would make them less likely to abandon the process partway through.

Differences across markets

This issue is perhaps even more important right now in the US online gambling market than it is elsewhere. Given the newness of the regulated industry, the number of first-time players attempting to sign up for sites has never been greater.

Nearly all US online gamblers included in the survey said they had registered for a new gambling account in the past two years. In fact, the average US respondent had signed up for four sites in that time, compared to three for the UK.

The novelty of online gambling also means the average US player is more active than their British counterpart. More than half (54%) of US players reported playing on a daily basis — compared to just 26% in the UK — and 85% said they play at least once a week.

Offshore threat to legal online gambling

US gambling operators also face the danger of losing customers to offshore sites due to the tighter regulations surrounding the sign-up processes itself.

The study found that US players reported much higher proof of identity requirements at sign-up than UK players. In particular, 56% of US players were asked for their social security number while only 20% of UK players were asked for equivalent government ID. A full half were asked to provide a photo of themselves compared to just 18% in the UK.

Perhaps as a result, over half of US respondents said they’d opened at least one account for a site outside their country. In the UK, the number was less than 40%.

That said, not every instance of a player opening an account abroad necessarily comes with intentions to play illegally. Some are likely due to movement between countries. After all, the UK and US have the highest rates of international travel in the world. Together, their citizens account for more than 16% of all international airline passengers.

In fact, 25% of UK players surveyed said they planned to open an account at a legal US site or had already done so.

Alignment of interests is key

Putting all these statistics together, the takeaway is that regulators and operators need to realize that their interests are aligned with those of the players — and vice versa. More importantly, operators should clearly communicate their intentions to the players.

For most people, the problem isn’t insurmountable.

Trulioo’s study shows that a quick and transparent process goes a long way toward establishing trust. If the player understands that they’re providing information for their own security and the verification happens in real-time, they’re far less likely to walk away before completing it. The financial sector also has strict identity-verification requirements, after all, but its sign-up processes get far better reviews.

Legislators and regulatory bodies can help or hinder in this regard, too. Identity verification requirements should be sufficient to ensure security without being overly burdensome.

There again it’s important to recognize the common interest. Policymakers want legal sites to succeed because they produce tax revenue and diminish the harm of illegal offshore sites. And operators are incentivized to combat fraud to protect their customers and remain in regulatory compliance.

Some users, however, will always feel uncomfortable sharing their personal information online. For that group, land-based gambling may simply be a better option.

- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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