Elevating Identity Verification in Online Gambling

Identity verification is a chief consideration for iGaming and mobile sports betting operators, especially as fraud and responsible gaming issues continue to rise to the forefront. Craig Herman (l.), chief revenue officer at software supplier Aware, explores how biometric technology can help the industry in its efforts to root out these issues.

Elevating Identity Verification in Online Gambling

Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018, the landscape of online sports betting and casino gambling in the United States has undergone a significant transformation.

However, despite this shift, only a select number of states have adopted legal online gambling, with just 30 states legalizing online sports betting and seven permitting online casinos. This raises an important question: Why is there such reluctance to embrace this potentially lucrative industry?

A primary concern centers on the risk of underage gambling. Research indicates that minors are at a greater risk of developing gambling addictions than adults, with the widespread availability of gambling on smartphones and computers exacerbating this issue. Additionally, the insufficient efforts by social media platforms to prevent the exposure of gambling ads to minors contribute to the problem.

Another significant issue is ensuring responsible gambling. The constant availability of gambling on our devices poses a risk akin to leaving an addict in a room filled with addictive substances. To alleviate concerns and promote wider acceptance of online gambling, the industry must prioritize robust identity verification processes to confirm that gamblers are of legal age and engaging in these activities responsibly.

Besides the states’ concerns, platform operators themselves face heavy pressures to make sure players are who they claim to be. Even though they are not required by law to conduct Know Your Customer (KYC) checks as are leading financial services firms, platform operators are choosing to do them because their payment providers are asking them to do so. These payment providers want to make sure bad actors aren’t accessing the sites and using them to launder money or use stolen credit cards to play and then take money out.

In addition, platform operators need to be able to detect players trying to create duplicate accounts at the point of enrollment. This prevents previously enrolled players from being able to fraudulently access specialized one-time incentives or awards that may come with the opening of a new account.

Enter biometrics, a fancy word for using parts of the body, like faces or fingerprints, to tell who someone is. Right now, to gamble online, you need to show some ID, like a driver’s license. But kids can easily use someone else’s ID to get past these checks.

Biometric technology, especially facial recognition, offers an effective countermeasure by matching a live selfie with the photo on an official ID, verifying the individual’s identity with high accuracy and fairness. This method integrates additional checks, such as geolocation and legal age confirmation, thereby enhancing the security of the online gambling ecosystem against underage participation and creating a safer environment for all users.

As the online gambling sector grows, there is an increasing need for operators to protect players from the potential dangers of gambling. Technologies like facial recognition can play a crucial role in “evasion detection,” identifying users attempting to circumvent system controls. While European casinos have successfully implemented exclusion programs that allow at-risk individuals to voluntarily ban themselves, this principle is also applicable in the online realm. Facial recognition can identify users attempting to bypass restrictions, ensuring those who have self-excluded or reached their betting limits are prevented from gambling, reinforcing the industry’s dedication to responsible gaming.

The introduction of cloud-based services has significantly simplified the integration of advanced security features, such as facial recognition, for online gaming platforms. This technological advancement not only enhances safety and fairness across gambling environments but also substantially aids in achieving regulatory compliance.

Our company, Aware, just announced an AwareID plug-in for platform operators running WooCommerce, the open-source, fully customizable ecommerce platform built on WordPress. These platform operators can now be up and running on an extremely player-friendly, web browser-based biometric authentication (facial recognition) solution in as little as three minutes.

The capability to deploy biometric security solutions in a matter of minutes empowers platforms of all sizes to safeguard their users effectively while adhering to legal standards. It is imperative for online gambling entities to recognize the importance of embracing this technology. Implementing such measures represents a pivotal move towards establishing a more secure and reputable online gambling ecosystem, thereby promoting trust and integrity within the community.