Ever Wonder Why New Jersey’s Legal Online Casinos Ask For Your Social Security Number?

Posted By Steve Ruddock on May 26, 2017 - Last Updated on February 23, 2018

[toc]In order to protect the integrity of the games, and prevent underage gambling, licensed online gaming sites operated by Atlantic City casinos implement a verification check on all registrants. This check requires the prospective customer to divulge their name, address, and other personal information, including their Social Security number.

This requirement has proven problematic for licensed New Jersey online gaming operators.

At a California online poker hearing in April of 2014, Borgata CEO Tom Ballance called the point where registrants are prompted to enter their Social Security number “the biggest drop-off point in the registration process.”

That being said, if you want to play at a licensed online poker site or play at a licensed online casino, you’re going to reveal your Social Security number. This requirement is mandatory.

Here’s a look at:

  • Why sites require this information
  • What it allows an online operator to do
  • Why you shouldn’t be concerned about disclosing it

Why sites require this information

The reason online casinos need to identify and log Social Security numbers stems from the Patriot Act and the Bank Secrecy Act.

As far as the government is concerned, casinos, including regulated New Jersey online casinos, are financial institutions. Like financial institutions, they must adhere to the government’s strict regulations. This includes collecting Social Security numbers from players.

Casinos are subject to the same anti-money laundering protocols as financial institutions. This means they have to record a person’s namepermanent address, and Social Security number whenever there is a new account or new deposit.

Is my information safe?

Most people protect those nine digits as if they were the password to our online banking information. Understandably, an online casino asking for your Social Security number triggers alarm bells in many people’s minds.

The good news is casinos are highly regulated. Your information is as safe with a licensed casino as it is with any bank or financial institution.

The casinos that operate online gambling sites licensed and regulated. So are the companies that perform the ID checks. Third-party companies hired to run player verification checks by online gaming operators must be vetted and licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Why do some sites only ask for the last four digits?

Some operators ask for all nine digits of your SSN, while others only ask for the final four digits. On the surface, one might seem more invasive than the other. The truth is, both lead to the same information.

When combined with your other information, the final four numbers of your SSN are almost always enough to confirm your full number.

The IRS and FinCen allow online casinos to collect the final four digits of a person’s SSN, provided they can confirm the full SSN through other means. If they cannot match your information to your full SSN, you cannot register.

While it may appear to be less invasive to the registrant, the decision to only ask for the final four digits is no different than asking for your full SSN. Any site asking for the final four numbers simply takes that info and matches it to your full Social Security number in a database.

If they cannot match it to your full SSN, you will not be permitted to play.

If you’re playing at an online casino site that only asked you for four digits, you can be certain the site independently confirmed your complete SSN.

Why don’t offshore online gaming sites ask for this information?

Actually, offshore, unlicensed sites do require this information… just not when you register.

Instead, offshore sites want this information when you try to withdraw from the site. Certainly, they’re willing to let you deposit money and play at the site without verifying your information. However, if you win and want your money, they suddenly care who you are.

The reason for this should be obvious. Offshore sites don’t care if you’re underage, or pretending to be someone you’re not, so long as you lose. It’s another story if you win and want to withdraw.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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