Biometrics: The Future of Online Gaming?

1 June 2000
What if there was a way to reliably identify that the players at your Web site are who they say they are--a way that would weed out underage bettors or protect against credit card fraud? Biometrics might provide this solution, according to Trevor Walker, acting VP for BioNetrix, a company that develops biometrics software.

Biometrics is the use of the unique physical characteristics of an individual to verify that person is who they say they are.

A few Las Vegas casinos are already looking how biometrics can be used to improve security efforts internally. If their internal controls work, the casinos will likely take biometrics to the next level.

In the not-too-distant future, thanks to the various biometrics tools already available (including voice, fingerprint, face and iris recognition), land-based casinos will be able to pull up incoming guests' names, addresses, credit lines, betting histories and more--before the guests even get past the front door. Pretty scary, huh?

Walker suggests that it won't be long before these tools become a regular part of e-commerce. … And e-betting.

Business-to-business uses will lead the way because companies need better security tools. Business-to-consumer sites will follow. Right now, some of these tools are being used in the health care and financial services industries.

Walker predicts that it will probably be a year before gambling sites will begin incorporating them. All it takes is one company taking the step, he says, and others will follow the lead.

Walker believes high-stakes gaming sites will be the first to go for it. Players who deposit large sums of money will want and may even ask for something stronger than a password. After all, there are plenty of documented cases that illustrate the ease in which passwords, credit card numbers and more can be stolen off Internet sites.

Voice recognition tools are the easiest to use because it's relatively cheap to add microphones to most cards. Face recognition tools are a little harder because cameras are obviously more expensive.

And it won't be long before PCs will come with embedded fingerprint scanners. Already, several PC manufacturers are offering fingerprint protection for laptop computers.

No one tool is superior; each brings its own strengths and weaknesses. BioNetrix works with a number of partner companies that supply these tools, including Veridicom (www.veridicom) for fingerprint scanning; for face recognition and IriScan ( for iris recognition. BioNetrix can be found at

The future of online identification is coming sooner than you might expect. While biometrics might not be the next security tool you add to your arsenal, don't be surprised if you find yourself implementing at least a similar device sometime in the next two or three years.

Vicky Nolan joined the IGN staff in October 1999. She's best known for inventing fire, the wheel and swiss cheese. She can be reached at