OLG uses biometrics to ban gambling addicts

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., headquartered in Toronto, is implementing facial recognition software in its casinos by taking photos of visitors, but Paul Pellizari, the director of policy and social responsibility at the OLG, said it will not violate gambler privacy.

The Oakville, Ont.-based iView Systems’ technology being deployed by the OLG includes a database of all the facial images of members of the Voluntary Self-Exclusion program, people who recognize they have a gambling problem and want to be banned from participation in gambling institutions. There are also cameras placed at the entrance of every gambling facility, which take pictures of people as they enter and then run their photos through the database to see if there is a match. If there is a match on the system, the individuals are taken to the side to be identified in person. If it is a match, individuals are escorted off the premises. If caught, a person may be fined or have to stay away from gambling longer than they previously agreed.
The images taken of people as they walk in are deleted automatically if it does not match a photo in the database, taking into account gambler privacy, according to Pellizari.
“(The government is) aiding people; helping those who want to be helped,” said Julie Taylor, the marketing coordinator at iView Systems. “The government wants to take responsibility (in helping people with gambling problems) know their limits.”
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This technology replaces the older paper-based system of security guards trying to remember people by looking at photos of members of the voluntary program, Taylor said. The database is biometric-encrypted with alpha-numeric data so that it is not easily hack-able. This means, if the database is hacked and a person manages to break into the system, they are unable to see the actual images of people, instead they will only see the alpha-numeric data the photo is encrypted with, according to Ann Cavoukian, the Ontario privacy commissioner.
“Self-exclusion is for the vulnerable player base (of the OLG, where) breaching is a problem,” Pellizari said. The OLG also decided to go with iView Systems’ software because there is not much false identification, when it comes to identifying a potential gambling addict, according to Pellizari.
More than 50 per cent will breach the Voluntary Self-Exclusion policy and attempt to gamble, according to Pellizari.

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