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Australian Government Considering Fingerprint Technology for Poker Machines

Dec 12, 2010
Author: Michael Mancini
Australian Government Considering Fingerprint Technology for Poker Machines

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian government is considering using USB memory sticks that can recognize individual fingerprints in order to enforce loss limits on video poker machines.

As part of a program designed to cut down on the risk of problem gambling in Australia, the government has made plans to implement a pre-commitment scheme that would require players to set a limit as to how much they’re willing to lose while playing the machines. Once that limit was reached, the players would no longer be able to play for a predetermined length of time.

The manufacturer of the memory sticks, Melbourne-based Responsible Gaming Networks, says that the technology would help reduce the risk of players getting into trouble by chasing losses after a bad session.

While details are still being worked out, it seems as though the plan would work something like the following:

Any Australian who wanted to play on the popular poker machines would be required to obtain a key from a post office or other business. That key, using the Responsible Gaming Networks’ USB technology, would be able to recognize the owner’s fingerprint, and would have a record of the pre-set spending limit for that player.

In order to play on a poker machine, the player would then have to insert their key into the machine. The key would tell the machine to stop accepting wagers once a spending limit had been reached. However, the player would be able to change their limit after a “cooling-off period” that has yet to be determined.

The USB key would have an advantage over a card system. According to Phillip Ryan, director of Responsible Gaming Networks, about one-third of players using a “smartcard” system in Canada shared their cards with other players as a way to get around spending limits.

In addition, Ryan defending the USB key against charges that it would violate the privacy rights of players. Fingerprint data wouldn’t be stored in a central location; only the USB card would have the fingerprint as a method of activation.

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