November 20th, 2022: For years, underage gambling has been a problem for regulators in the United Kingdom. According to a report by the Gambling Commission, more than a quarter of school children have admitted to betting on popular fruit machines. In the same report, about two-thirds were not stopped from doing so by the staff, who, according to the law, is mandated to check if players are below 21.
Now, new software may put an end to this practice. A facial-age-estimation technology is now in the works and is now being installed on thousands of fruit machines in pubs, bars, and service stations across the UK. Designed by Yoti, this new software will now require slot machine players to take a selfie in front of the machine to prove that they’re over 18 years of age. This collaboration between the software company and game operators is seen as a way to address the growing underage gambling in the country.
A selfie before you play
This software is now installed in thousands of slot machines in the country. A camera in the slot machine will take a photo of the player’s face before they can start playing. Within two seconds, the software’s algorithm will determine the player’s age to within 18 months. Based on its design, the software will not allow players to spin the reels if they look too young.
As of this writing, Yoti’s age estimation technology is currently available in gambling machines or gaming terminals offered by Regal Gaming Technologies, a part of Merkur UK. In the UK, the minimum age for gambling is 18 years, which is seen as a victory for those seeking to put an end to underage gambling. According to Yoti, the images are instantly deleted, so there are no privacy issues.
Another option is for the slot machines to generate QR codes that the player can scan through an option in the software’s digital identity app. The app will send a signal to the machine if the player is over 18. In addition, the interested bettor may also select another option in the slot machine’s interface to request showing the physical credentials to a staff member to authorize a game session.
According to reports, this technology is polluted in pubs and entertainment areas in motorway service stations. Traditionally, these small areas rely only on signs that remind underage players not to play the slot machines.
Software can reduce confrontations, prevent underage gambling
According to industry sources, using Yoti’s software can reduce the chances of confrontations between the players and staff when age checks are requested. Since there will be fewer staff interactions, this development can improve the players’ gambling experience.
Robin Tombs, a Yoti executive, shared that they’re “committed to using our tech for good, particularly how we can help protect against underage accessing age-restricted leisure activities or online content”.
Regal Gaming Technologies will trial the software to evaluate its effectiveness.
Instagram, UK supermarkets use the software, too
In addition to gambling facilities, the software is also used in UK supermarkets at self-checkouts. In addition, Instagram has also announced that they will use the software before the year ends. According to reports, the social media site will use the technology to check whether their UK users are trying to change their age on the app so that they can appear as adults.