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Closing the rear door is just as important as closing the front door

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A small percentage of children still manage to play online despite the operators’ efforts to stop them. Philip Young, the creator of Luciditi’s identification tool, offers some advice on how to reduce that number.

Gambling operators are blocking access to their websites by under-18s as a priority due to the recent emphasis placed on underage gambling prevention.

It is now more difficult, though not impossible, for minors to play online.

According to a recent BBC article, a 16 year old boy opened an account under his father’s names and lost thousands of pounds. In recent years there have been similar stories about children using their parent’s identities, particularly in connection with in-app purchases made in FIFA and other games.

Many have said that in cases of underage gambling, parents should be more involved with their kids. The industry can go further to stop children from gambling.

According to the Gambling Commission’s Young People and Gambling Survey 2022, almost 1% were classified as “problem” gamblers. Another 2.4% were determined to be “at-risk” gamblers. The numbers of problem gamblers are alarming, especially when you consider that these kids shouldn’t be playing at all.

Fight the Fakes

Online operators face a challenge because IDs can be forged. To confirm someone’s online identity, the first step is to verify that they have a valid identity with their name, address and age. By combining their public record and financial history, this can be achieved fairly quickly. Since a while, agencies like Experian or TransUnion have offered these checks.

Second, you need to make sure that the identity submitted is actually the one that belongs to the submitter, and not someone who “borrowed it” from another person, like the boy of 16 years old.

You can do this by asking for a photo of yourself, and comparing it with a valid ID. Even this method is not foolproof, as someone may use the photograph of another person. This could be overlooked because it is usually a person who checks to see if there are any matches.

The technology allows for a more accurate detection of fake documents, fraudulent identity and fraudulent documents.

We chose to use artificial intelligence for certain parts of the digital ID application. They can also detect if a photo is held in front of a camera or if latex masks are being used. The chances that a child will open an account using a parent’s ID is greatly reduced.

The technology of remote identity verification is in its early stages. While some operators use it, there are still many miles to go before we see widespread adoption.

Advertising and underage gambling

It is also important to determine whether children online are adequately protected against gambling advertisements and if this encourages them to circumvent rules by using fake identification to gamble.

Recent findings from the Advertising Standards Authority’s 100 Children Report revealed that, over the course of a week, 3,8% ads on children’s personal electronic devices were advertisements for gambling, alcohol or age-restricted goods.

The majority of the ads were for gambling, but this does not mean that gambling companies are deliberately targeting minors.

The ASA found that only 48% of social media accounts owned by children aged 11-17 were correctly registered. One-tenth of the accounts falsely claimed that the child had reached the age of 18.

Data from the survey indicates that children often misreport their true age. Most of the ads targeted at underage kids were either to children who incorrectly stated their age, or those on sites with more than 75 percent of audience over the age of 18.

Social media companies are not in favor of this and have made it clear that they will not be forced to comply.

It may, as with so many things, be the users who bring about changes in the behaviour of social media platforms, rather than regulators.

Those who are worried about the safety of interacting in platforms with unverified users may move to platforms that allow them to be certain they’re interacting only with verified individuals. Now we are seeing the emergence of some social media platforms which estimate age.

It remains to be determined whether this trend will continue, but gambling companies should use all of the technology available to them in order to make it very difficult for someone under the age of 18 to pretend to be an older individual and to circumvent regulations.

Philip Young, chief technical officer of Arissian and co-founder is the creator of Luciditi. Luciditi, a digital platform for real-time identification that’s used by Premier Picks and other gambling operators to store customer data in addition to identifying them.

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