Gambling Proponents Want Age Verification Software


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May 13, 2007
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Online Gambling Proponents Want Age Verification Software

Supporters say age verification through third-party databases could prevent underage gambling.

Internet gambling advocates want the United States to follow a European model by allowing online gambling and using government information to verify that users meet age requirements.
The Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative announced Tuesday that it will push for age-verification technologies while promoting regulated online gambling. The group is battling to legalize online gambling in the Unites States and overturn the current ban on the practice. It supports U.S. Rep. Barney Frank's Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act.

The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters argue that legalized gambling is easier to control than illegal gambling and therefore would be a better route for protecting Americans from underage gambling, addiction, and fraud.

The gambling advocacy group says age verification through third-party systems like those run by the Social Security Administration and Department of Motor Vehicles databases could prevent underage gambling when coupled with questions about credit history and physical copies of identification documents.

"There is clear evidence that steps taken by regulated Internet gambling operators to ensure the age and identification of every online gambler has gone a long way to minimize the threat of underage gambling in the U.K.," Andrew Poole, managing director for GamCare Trade Services, said in a statement.

That British organization, owned by the charity GamCare, states that its purpose is to address social impacts of gambling.

"The structure of the Internet provides a unique opportunity to put in place protections that are not necessarily available in traditional gambling environments," Poole said. "Instantaneously, a user's identity can be compared to multiple databases and verified for accuracy." Michael Colopy, senior VP of the online identity and age verification services, Aristotle Inc., said that technologies and databases are becoming more effective and efficient.

"Online transactions have become, in many instances, faster and less risky than the visual driver's licenses scan that suffices for alcohol or cigarette purchases in America's neighborhoods," he said in a statement.

According to experts on gambling addiction and recovery, about 3% of the adult population will develop a serious problem with gambling that will cause significant debt, family or job problems, criminal activity, or suicide. Henry Lesieur and Durand Jacobs, both Ph.D. researchers who studied the issue, say adolescents are three times as likely as adults to become problem gamblers.

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