The Perils of Online Gaming

During a recent meeting of Nevada’s Gaming Policy Advisory Committee, security experts talked about ways to keep minors and cheaters away from online gaming sites. According to Chairman Peter Berhard, the industry needs to be sure to install “protection from fraudsters and youngsters.” On the surface, this definitely sound like a fantastic idea, doesn’t it? When reading further into the article I found though, I started to realize that there is no easy way to DO this without being far more intrusive than we could ever allow.

“The committee spent two hours hearing about technologies to verify identities, ages, and locations of online players. The location is relevant because a legal transaction would require the player to be in a jurisdiction where his participation is not against the law. The identity of the device may also be important because a single device might be used to conduct fraudulent transactions using the identities of multiple people.”

And just how the heck do you expect to verify these things? I understand the need to protect people from having their credit cards ripped off. I get that we cannot have teenagers gambling away their parents’ hard-earned money. But delve too far into the technologies you’re referring to and you have another issue on your hands – invasion of privacy is only the beginning of that particular iceberg.

It’s nearly impossible to keep kids away from places they have no business being online. It honestly doesn’t matter how many “safeguards” you have in place. During all my years of security work, one common theme was the teens (and sometimes younger kids) who ended up with infected computers after visiting sites they had no reason to view other than that they could. There are ways around the security checks. Lie about birthdates. Use Moms credit card to verify ages. Hack your way in. Let’s face it – many of these kids are simply smarter than their adult counterparts when it comes to figuring thing like this out. That renders every idea you come up with useless – they’ll figure out a way around it.

The same holds true for criminals, sadly. Each time a new tool or fix was created for a particular piece of malware, two more new strains would pop up in its place. As fast as we could tear down the latest threat someone was creating something that would bypass our tools. I was blessed to work with some of the greatest minds in the security industry. If the “bad guys” can get around even THEM – what makes you think they cannot get around whatever Nevada – and the other 49 states – may put in place on their poker sites?

There are no Federal regulations for online gambling as of yet. I was confused by some of the research I did… it’s honestly about as clear as mud as to whether any type of gambling is allowed online in the USA at all. Some articles claim it’s up to individual states to decide. Some claim we’re waiting on stalled bills in Congress. Other sites trumpet that it’s been legal all along and the government cannot do anything about it. Personally, I play to forever stay away from sites like this whether they’re legal or not. I don’t feel all that safe entering credit card numbers in a place which could so easily be compromised – not that I can afford to gamble, anyway.

What are your thoughts? Can you think of any ways to make SURE kids and “fraudsters” are kept at bay when it comes to an online gambling site without infringing on the players’ privacy and general safety?

I want more!

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