The use of biometrics in pubs and clubs to reduce the incidents of problem gambling would suffer a 20 to 30 per cent failure rate, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
At the Joint Select Committee on gambling reform chaired by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie last week, Ian Donald, technical director for smart card company Regis Controls said that the biometrics would be an economically unfeasible technology for clubs to implement in curbing problem gambling. He said that biometrics in passports have a 10 per cent failure rate and this would only be compounded in a pub, club or casino environment, where he predicted failure rates as high as 30 per cent.
"About 12 per cent of the population do not have a fingerprint. They are too old or they have been engaged in manual work and it may have worn off. There is no wall on the end of their thumb. Biometrics are going to be a much more expensive solution," he told the committee.
"This is mainly because, if you have to maintain 197,000 biometric readers ... it is going to be extraordinarily expensive. You are looking at something like five times the cost for biometrics."
Donald said there would have to be many exceptions made to the system if biometrics were used.
"What do you do if an 80-year-old pensioner wants to play her favourite Black Rhino machine and she has no fingerprint? Do you make an exception? How many exceptions do you make?"
Donald said that biometrics would also be easily tampered with. Especially if a USB device is used, as has been floated as part of the review.
"It is very easy to overcome biometrics if you are a problem gambler, particularly if it is a USB. All you need is a screwdriver or a penknife and you can destroy the biometric."
Donald said USB thumb drives would be "overkill" to reduce problem gambling and advocated a smart card alternative. Donald said each smart card would cost $5 at most to produce and the system could be in place nationally by 2016, because roughly 50 per cent of the industry already had approximately 50 per cent of poker machines with smart card systems attached.
"I would do a pilot to see if this technology works in a club or pub. If you set a national standard by June next year for [electronic gaming machines] then I think by 2016, given the average life of a poker machine is about six years, you would find that 90 per cent were smart card enabled," he said.
Donald was quick to point out that although Regis Controls was involved in smart card systems, the company would not be bidding for any tenders that eventuated from the review.