ast month the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) revealed that following a review of pubs in England and Wales, 84% failed to prevent minors from playing Category C fruit machines following an assessment of 170 pubs across England and Wales over the past year.
Innovative Technology (ITL) has developed ICU – an instant age verification device designed to help customers who operate age restricted gaming machines on their premises with their responsible gambling obligations.
Andrew O’Brien, ICU Product Manager, commented: “ICU can be used to control access to age restricted gambling venues or installed inside individual gaming machines to restrict play (for example in pubs, clubs or service stations). It can help pub owners take practical steps to combat underage gambling and assist premises and operators to comply with age-related gambling restrictions and regulations. If you have a pub with a category C gaming machine you can use ICU to safeguard children and ensure compliance with the law.”
And he continued: “The UKGC is working closely with local authorities who have primary responsibility for regulating machines however, individual businesses are liable to ensure that they are compliant in checking age verification. If pubs do not take age verification seriously, they can face fines, prosecutions and even risk losing their entitlement to have gaming machines on their premises. The UK Gambling Commission’s Director, Helen Rhodes, was quoted saying that pubs must take age verification on machines as seriously as they do for alcohol sales, and they risk losing their entitlement to offer machines.”
Independent organisations are coming together to tackle this social issue. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UK Hospitality (UKH) have produced an updated ‘Social Responsibility Charter for Gaming Machines in Pubs’ for their members. This charter sets out to explain to pub owners how they can prevent children playing on gaming machines by supporting staff to ensure they understand their legal responsibilities. Public Health England have also been tasked to carry out an evidence-based review of gambling related health issues following recommendations to strengthen player protection.
O’Brien added: “ICU is an automated age check device that does not require pre-registration or human intervention so is quick and easy for customers to use. It is very accurate – with a proven 96% success rate in detecting under 18’s and compared to a human accuracy rate of 69% it outperforms humans across all age ranges. Its high level of anti-spoof detection also helps reduce the risk of players gaining access to age restricted premises or using machines fraudulently. ICU uses artificial intelligence and our own algorithms to estimate age but no images are stored so the unit is compliant with GDPR.”
Concluding, he said: “Promoting responsible gambling should be a key part of any large pub chain or independent pub’s corporate social responsibility strategy. But it needs to go beyond this. The industry as a whole need to collaborate closely to tackle this current issue in our society today.”