The regulations of the Financial Services Authority, which oversees all spread betting firms, mean that the application process is much stricter than for any other type of betting account. This is as much for the gambler’s benefit as the firms. The main purpose is to ensure that investors can cover their losses and it is the firm’s responsibility to confirm that over time clients can still cover their positions. Thus usually on an annual basis, the firms will write to clients asking them to confirm their financial status and ability to pay.
The other main reason behind the strict controls is to prevent money laundering and fraud. Therefore many of the requirements for opening a new spread betting account are designed to certify exactly who is applying. Different firms have slightly different policies and they change with time, but all need original documentation that confirms identity.
The list of documents that are considered acceptable include utility bills, bank or credit card bills, mortgage statements, a driving licence or passport and Inland Revenue notifications. The aim is to confirm an applicant’s identity and tie them in with an address. Applicants who have been living at a property for less than a certain time (usually two years) will also be asked for their previous address and this can be cross-referenced with the electoral register.