Why Casinos Must Stay Vigilant on ID Authentication

by Joe Oprosko

As anyone working in gaming and hospitality can attest, fake IDs are common. What’s concerning for many in the industry today is just how good some of these fakes are. Today, fake IDs don’t just look like flimsy cardstock that’s been through a laminator – they are sophisticated enough to pass a barcode scan and visual inspection by even experienced staff members.

In the gaming industry, the consequences for not being on top of ID fraud can be serious. In addition to facing fines for letting underage patrons drink or gamble, casinos also run the risk of fines for noncompliance with anti-money laundering regulations. Being under scrutiny from regulators demands time and resources that management would likely prefer to spend elsewhere, so it pays to be proactive in ID authentication.

A Barcode Scan Isn’t Enough

The term ID authentication should be understood as a process that is separate from and more secure than ID verification. ID verification is often used in reference to barcode scans, and while this technology is better than nothing, it can still leave properties vulnerable to fraud.

Barcode scans of an ID are typically performed at casino entrances, check-ins, and points-of-sale. These scans give frontline staff members a stronger tool to verify an ID than visual inspection alone, and reduce the mental load on staff members. The barcode reader is often integrated with the POS or entry management software and can quickly confirm if the barcode scan shows the patron is of age. One problem with this technology, however, is that barcodes are one of the easiest elements of an ID to forge. Sophisticated fake IDs that can easily pass this inspection are readily available online for under $100. Relying only on a barcode scan for ID checks leaves casinos vulnerable to fraud and noncompliance fines.

A more secure alternative is to implement full ID authentication – ID check technology that goes beyond a barcode scan. What does this mean? Depending on the ID, data can be encoded on a barcode, RFID and/or magnetic stripe. Whichever way(s) the document is encoded, a thorough authentication process uses a document reader to extract this data and confirm that it matches the printed data on the front of the document.

Additionally, full ID authentication will verify the presence of an ID’s unique security features, such as state seals and other patterns. These features may be either visible to the naked eye or only under specialized lights such as near-infrared and UV. With this stronger level of security, casinos can be more certain they’re protecting themselves against falsified IDs. 

Downstream Benefits of ID Authentication

Rigorous ID authentication can have positive effects that ripple far beyond a patron’s first admittance to the property. It can enhance the accuracy of watch list checks. It can prevent unknowingly enrolling someone with a false identity into a players’ club. It can even speed up hotel check-in, which can have a noticeable impact on lines and the patron experience during peak times. 

As the gaming industry begins to emerge from COVID lockdowns and apply the lessons learned for the future, ID authentication can play a role as well. Self-service kiosks have been a helpful tool during this time to speed up lines and reduce the need for face-to-face contact between staff and patrons. Kiosks can be equipped with facial matching software that confirms a match between the patron’s face and the photo on their ID, making them capable of handling tasks like check-in, player enrollment, and age-restricted transactions – all without significant involvement from a staff member, and without compromising security or legal compliance.

Even pre-COVID, kiosks like this have been utilized at many casinos for players’ club enrollment, and properties are now beginning to expand their capabilities. When patrons can use this self-service option for the property’s basic and common transactions, staff are better able to serve patrons with unique needs, or simply to provide a patron experience that is less transaction-focused.

ID Authentication Offers More than Protection

Longtime casino staffers can easily tell stories of obvious and amateur fake IDs. But there are fewer stories about great fake IDs – and the sobering reason for that is they often go undetected. Casinos that rely only on visual inspection or barcode scans to check IDs are leaving themselves open to being targets of fraud and potentially suffering significant monetary losses – whether from the fraud or from regulatory fines. By implementing more secure ID authentication processes, properties can not only protect themselves against these losses, but actually enhance their service and improve efficiency.    

Joe Oprosko is the CEO of Veridocs, Inc., with offices in Lexington, KY, Las Vegas, NV, and Minneapolis, MN. He can be reached by calling him at (612) 719-0474 or email [email protected].