How will biometrics change the game for gamers

By Patrice Boché, VP Sales & Marketing, Gaming, Public Security & Identity Business Unit at IDEMIA

By Ramon Mendez, Head of Gaming, Financial Institutions Business unit at IDEMIA

Read time: 5 minutes
Ramon Mendez, Head of Gaming at IDEMIA

If an underage player logs on to a verified player’s account, they can play without being detected. There is a clear need to take the digital identification process a step further for online gamers. Biometrics can help address this challenge.
Ramon Mendez, Head of Gaming, Financial Institutions Business unit at IDEMIA

Patrice Boche, Sales & Marketing, Gaming at IDEMIA

In gaming establishments, there is a growing need to authenticate gamers to verify their age and lower the risk of gambling addiction. Biometric solutions can address this challenge while taking into account players’ anonymity concerns.
Patrice Boché, VP Sales & Marketing, Gaming, Public Security & Identity Business Unit at IDEMIA

  • Gaming operators and retailers are tasked with verifying the age of players and lowering the risk of gambling addiction
  • In physical establishments, flagging addictive behavior is a real challenge, while online gaming websites struggle particularly with accurately verifying the age of players
  • Drawing on IDEMIA’s biometric expertise gaming operators can efficiently address these challenges without interfering with the gaming experience

The scratch ticket, the weekly number draw…whether it’s winning a few euros, a few hundred euros or a life-changing sum, the thrill of playing and winning draws in hundreds of millions of players across the globe each year. But gaming operators and retailers are required – both in physical locations and online gaming sites – to ensure players are of legal age and that the game doesn’t get out of hand. The more convenient, and surest, tool to face these challenges – with minimal (or often invisible) impact on the gaming experience – is biometric technology.

Different environments, different challenges

There are two very distinct types of gaming establishments and player populations. In physical locations, players can purchase printed games and tickets from retailers or they can play on automated machines. With many vendors in major cities, the possibility of flagging potential addictive behavior is next to none but for paper ticket sales, retailers are at least able to visually estimate age. Of course, when we consider the average number of tickets sold by an establishment each day, and the fact that a ticket can cost as little as 1€, they aren’t likely to verify the age of every player. However, it is already possible to combine ID document verification and lottery ticket scans with new gaming terminals combining both functionalities to address the growing need to authenticate the identities of players in the points of sale. The Elite terminal by IDEMIA is one of the very few models on the market allowing this ID reading and authentication – so that players can prove they are of legal age, confirm their identity in case of a major payout, or even open an account with their retailer.

The challenges online are slightly reversed. Whereas players in physical locations still tend to remain anonymous, websites require player registration, which makes it easier to flag addictive behavior and identify real addiction. Verifying age on the other hand is much more difficult online. Currently, players are only required to present a valid ID document when they open an account. From then on, if an underage player logs on to a verified player’s account, they can play without being detected.

For more than 20 years, IDEMIA has been a true partner to the gaming industry, providing gaming terminals and ID document scanners to physical establishments as well as secure data storage solutions in the online realm. We can now pair this expertise with our extensive biometric experience to bring effective and seamless solutions that address the challenges of age and addiction both in the physical and digital gaming spaces.

Biometrics in gaming establishments

For self-service gaming on automated machines, the use of biometric credentials can easily streamline age controls and prevent minors from playing, while safeguarding players’ anonymity. All players will be required to do is to present a valid ID document to prove their age and register their fingerprint data the very first time they come to play. In return, they will receive a smartcard containing their fingerprint credentials – effectively confirming they are of legal age without actually storing their age or any other identity information. To begin playing, they will only need to tap their card on the terminal reader and scan their fingerprint, verifying that they are in fact the cardholder – and not their younger sister for instance. The best part of the entire process is very intuitive and asks little from players. Moreover, this type of solution can measure the frequency and duration of gaming sessions. Thus, it can help detect potentially addictive behavior and address prevention messages.

Biometrics in the digital realm

Although online players’ identities are automatically tied to their gaming profiles, gaming operators are not able to confirm who is actually playing using their profile – hence the need to take the digital identification process a step further. A major challenge, however, is that legitimate players are highly likely to walk away the moment a gaming transaction becomes tedious. Online, the user experience is all that matters.

With this in mind, facial recognition is the best solution to efficiently authenticate players. Given that online players are accustomed to strong digital authentication procedures with online banking, verifying their gaming identity with a quick selfie presents little risk of impacting their gaming experience. Once biometric data is captured at the enrollment stage, players can effortlessly and digitally prove their identity at critical moments, such as when they log in or cash out. This process will not only help prevent underage gaming, but it also gives players the peace of mind that their personal data and funds are safe.

The IDEMIA advantage

With biometric solutions, we set out to create an Augmented Identity for gamers. Our unique concept of Augmented Identity takes into account players’ anonymity concerns in the physical world and the expectation of a frictionless experience in the digital world. It helps our clients responsibly manage their businesses by efficiently authenticating gamers – whether verifying a player’s age or detecting signs of addiction.


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