Online betting in South Africa is a thriving business, expected to become a billion-dollar sector within four years. But there are risks, especially as the digital era makes it easy to forge identities. Betting companies must manage fraud risks and honour legislation, avoid financial and reputational damage, and continue investing in customer relationships.

Gambling’s identity risks

All of those areas become very complicated and fraught when a customer is fake. Fraudsters abuse multiple profiles to manipulate their chances to win or to take advantage of new player promotions. Account takeovers are also a rising concern.

Digital risks are putting pressure on online betting operators: according to LexisNexus, identity-manipulating bot attacks against online gambling grew 112% in 2022.

Identity problems extend into other areas of concern. While fraudsters chew away at some of their profits, betting houses must also manage the risks of fines. Gambling companies are regulated to ensure they don’t give access to minors or people playing from outside their legal jurisdiction. Money laundering activities often abuse online betting services, so the industry follows financial requirements such as Know Your Customer (KYC).

And then there is the cybercrime issue—digital operations are susceptible to online attacks, and those criminals also abuse identity to access systems.

Identity’s digital business benefits

Those are the risks. But the gambling and betting markets are foremost built on relationships. KYC might be a regulation, but knowing your customer is also the bread and butter of successful gambling companies. As betting and gambling operations digitise, they stand to gain tremendous benefits from understanding their clientele in more detail, creating room for better and faster personalisation that influences more of their customers—a particular advantage for online betting.

All these issues come back to identity: how do you know whether your customers are who they say they are? The digital age has made hiding, altering, and faking identities much easier. Official identifications are also only useful to a point. Even credit cards, once a reliable way to verify someone, fall victim to rampant cloning and synthetic card fraud. And with tightening anti-money laundering laws, fewer businesses can defer identity verifications to banks.

Is there a way to address all these issues? If the central problem is identity, the solution is through robust identity platforms. An identity platform is a layer that interacts with business systems, verifying identities on their behalf and making it much simpler to design, build and modify identity processes.

Betting on identity platforms

Identity platforms are central to identity management in the digital era. The best platforms can rapidly query dozens of identity sources, such as biometrics or databases of high-risk individuals, very quickly producing a superior level of verification. Digital identity platforms are constantly improving—they are natural places to deploy new identity methods, information and enhancements. They are excellent at process automation, removing manual hurdles that water down identity governance and consume staff time.

These features integrate directly with different business systems, from enrolling new players and safeguarding player accounts to checking if the right people are accessing company systems. The price is also right. Digital platforms work well with subscription and operational cost models—a gambling company does not need to own an expensive identity system or the server hardware to run it. Just pay to use.

It’s become tricky to determine if someone is who they claim to be, especially online. The scale of identity fraud made possible through digital is astounding. But so are the benefits and profits, and digital systems also provide an answer to the identity problem.

Digital identity platforms are the most effective way to rapidly yet comprehensively and affordably check identity. They also help modernise business and identity processes through automation and integration. Betting on identity platforms is a clear winner.