Underage gambling is a serious criminal offense. Casinos where minors have been found gambling are heavily fined, and employees can be suspended for failing to check identification. Minor gamblers will lose the entirety of their winnings, and in many states the offense will also appear on their criminal record.
Online gaming, contrary to common misconceptions, treats underage gambling with equal severity. It’s a myth that minors can more easily sneak past restrictions online than in brick-and-mortar casinos. In reality, gaming operators leverage multiple levels of safeguarding to prevent underage participation.
New Jersey’s strict regulations provide an example of how responsible gaming operators use technology to protect their games and consumers from underage gambling.
1. Verify the patron’s identity
Basic security measures start with self-identification requirements. When a patron registers to place bets on an online gaming site, they must first input their legal name, birth date, social security number, phone number, and home address. Operators then feed these key pieces of information to a third-party verifier.
In New Jersey, CAMS (Central Account Management System) is the verification service approved by the Division of Gaming Enforcement to process this information for most in-state operators. Before any patron can place a bet, CAMS runs the information through a comprehensive identification process.
2. Educate and empower adult patrons
Thanks to the verification process, you need to be 21 or older in order to open an online gaming account. However, what’s to prevent an adult patron from allowing a minor to access his or her account?
In New Jersey, online gaming operators by law must include a checkbox for patrons to click in order to acknowledge that “anyone who facilitates someone under the age of 21 to gamble has committed a criminal offense.” Additionally, patrons on any New Jersey gaming site are prohibited from sharing their account with anyone, even other adults.
This step also gives patrons the tools to strengthen their own account security. After they click the checkbox, patrons can choose to set a PIN for an added layer of login security. And whether they select this or not, they will also receive an email receipt each time they log in. If a patron gets an email and hasn’t logged in himself, he will immediately know something is wrong; he is then directed to click a link within the email receipt to notify the operator.
3. Flag suspicious activity
Even after players are verified and given notice about the importance of account security, a responsible operator’s work must continue to monitor different aspects of play, as required by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
Activity is monitored behind the scenes while players are engaged in games. Unusual play patterns, like increased frequency of gaming sessions or incremental and rapidly rising wager amounts, may result in a player account getting flagged. When a player is flagged, an alert is sent to the player services organization to investigate. Sometimes it is truly unusual activity, and sometimes the system simply encounters a false positive, but at this point a human investigator will take the time to determine the situation.
Operators flag suspicious activity for many reasons. In addition to preventing underage gambling, flagging is also used to spot hacked accounts or problem gamblers.
Through these three levels of security, gaming operators in New Jersey are vigilantly monitoring players and play patterns in order to keep everything running safely and smoothly. Preventative measures like these have been shown to be effective in curbing underage gambling; they are a model for other states seeking rational regulation of online gaming.