Rhode Island is considering banning facial recognition from sports betting apps

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Sports betting in the age of AI is putting a fresh face on gambling technology, urging at least one state to look into protecting bettors under its laws.

That state is Rhode Island, where the legislature (H7772), introduced in the state General Assembly on Jan. 26, would ban sports betting apps from using facial recognition and biometric recognition technology — specifically algorithms designed to increase bet amounts, condition a consumer, or game based on betting history of a consumer.

The same bans would apply to other online betting apps and VLTs at racetracks.

The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Joseph McNamara by Warwick et al MP Brandon Potter von Cranston, both Democrats. It was referred to the government and the House Election Committee, although no hearing date was set.

Rhode Island was one of the first states to introduce retail sports betting following the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018. The following year, mobile sports betting was launched. Passing H 7222 would make the state one of the first to look specifically at the use of AI in gaming technology.

Government concerns about AI on the rise

Biometrics, according to the Biometrics Instituteare the “unique biological and behavioral traits that can be used to identify an individual,” including facial appearance, DNA, fingerprints, hand size, gait, and even how to smell.

Face recognition is a type of biometric recognition.

States began taking a closer look at AI after privacy concerns prompted major companies like IBM to stop selling facial recognition technology to governments.

Nevertheless, biometric recognition is still widely used by companies. And it’s a growing part of the internet gambling and gaming industry.

“In the next few years, the internet gambling business could be completely transformed as artificial intelligence (AI) enters the scene,” FinancialNewsMedia.com reported in Oct. 2021. “At its core, AI is a type of software or hardware that learns – and it could be programmed to primarily learn about us and its users, and these insights could drive the development of new, hyper-personalized gaming and internet betting experiences.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) reports on legislation addressing the use of biometrics in commerce, but not for gambling or gambling itself introduced in 24 states in 2021. None passed. AI-related invoices submitted at least 19 states in 2020 met a similar fate.

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