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The battle to ensure game fairness may run up against data protection and privacy rules in some jurisdictions.
PokerStars’ latest attempts to ensure compliance with the updated game fairness provisions within its terms and conditions have raised privacy concerns among players.
The issue has arisen from requests to players that they submit a video recording of their play, showing them and their immediate environment as well as the screens which he or she is using.
According to one public post by a PokerStars player, the player must shoot a video of them playing a regular poker session that lasts at least 70 minutes, during which the recording must be of “sufficient quality” to clearly depict the action on the screen. The keyboard, mouse and a player’s hands must be in the frame, and audio must be enabled.
At the beginning of the video, there must be a clear depiction of a player’s face to confirm identity, a 360-degree camera rotation to show immediate surroundings.
Players have been given ten days to complete the task.
Assuming that the request has actually been made by PokerStars, it would appear to be a method of confirming compliance with its terms and conditions regarding third party tools and services.
Enforcement of these conditions can be difficult, and asking players to submit a video according to the conditions listed above would certainly provide good evidence of compliance. The play during the video can be compared with play at other times, and any inconsistencies can be used as evidence that the player may be breaching the terms and conditions of the site.
It is entirely admirable that PokerStars takes its game security so seriously, and few would doubt that it leads the industry in this regard, but however welcome the security enhancements may be, their impact must be weighed against the potential privacy concerns which arise.
Whereas the culture of North America and the UK may be relatively relaxed about privacy issues, many European countries and former communist countries take a much harder line on the issue.
In October last year, Svenska Spel was found to be in breach of Sweden’s data protection laws because of the data it was collecting on players as part of its responsible gaming measures.
Svenska Spel collects data that may give it guidance as to which players may develop gambling problems. The regulator Datainspektionen ruled that this activity amounted to collecting health data on customers which is not permitted.
Both game fairness and responsible gambling are important objectives for both operators and regulators, but the means to achieve them must be compliant with national constitutions and data protection laws.
While there is no suggestion at the moment that PokerStars’ activities are in breach of any law or regulation, the comments from players reflect the fact that there is a tension between what the operator is trying to achieve and the principle of personal privacy.
This tension is likely to be a theme over the next few years as regulators demand that operators take an active role in preventing problem gambling and operators attempt to protect their players from cheating.
This article is syndicated by the leading poker industry news authority, Poker Industry PRO.