There's nothing new or unusual about a casino using things like cameras and players cards to track its customers. The casinos in Macau, however, are now dialing this basic concept up to 11. The main idea is to give casinos a way of easily separating who might become serious gamblers from those just having a fun weekend.
It begins the moment you enter the building with hidden cameras using facial recognition technology to tag you. I assume, if you're a new customer, the computer assigns you a temporary ID number while returning guests would have their complete files accessed and attached to their facial images. The table games and checks/chips are all tagged with radio-frequency identification allowing your (real time) playing style to be sent to a centralized database where your risk profile is created and/or updated. Gamblers who keep playing when losing are singled out for immediate and future perks.
What games do you play? How much do you bet? How often do you win? Do you bet more when you lose? Do you enjoy high HE side bets? How often do you take a bathroom break or (in Macau) stop to use the smoking lounge. Do these breaks affect your play? Does alcohol affect it? Are you distracted by a pretty cocktail waitress?
The answers to all these questions are in your profile and as you might imagine there are ethical issues to consider. Some people involved wonder if rich clients will want to be watched. And what happens if the police or some other government agency wants database access?
For now though Macau seems to be full steam ahead with the tech. To be fair, there are many legitimate uses for it. High value customers could be quickly spotted and a casino employee immediately sent to see to their needs. Different table games (and their min/max bets) could be opened or closed based on who is in the live play area. Stolen chips could be radio tagged as such while counterfeiting is deterred. Dealers could be monitored by management for how many hands get played an hour. Player/dealer collusion would be easier to spot while honest mistakes would be easier to correct. Banned players would set off sirens at the doorway and their facial file shared with other casinos.
Will this tech come to the US? Who knows? The Chinese are much more used to being monitored than Americans. Then again, how do we know it isn't already here? As one tech official assured a potential buyer: “Your customers don’t even realize they are being tracked.”
Full Story at Macau Daily Times
Oops! Government Crackdown Response at Yogonet
Comparisons are made to a bell pepper and bok choi or similar ojects, the image of the person walking a hallway is flipped upside down so its easier to tell where the face is. Ear data is collected but rarely the full 14 points. More than one camera is used so averting gazes is futile.
And, unless you are a foreign tourist, they probably know who you are the moment you enter (or even sooner if your car plates get logged in the parking garage or valet)….. The facial ID tech may be higher quality now, but same concept. Even if you do not have a player's card at a particularly casino, the casinos know who you are and how you play (much shared data in the industry).
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There's also an idea to use it in pubs (bars) to identify who has been waiting to order their drinks first (in the UK many places operate with order and pay at the bar for your drinks). This would stop those barging in getting in before you. They say it will be quicker as everyone won't be fighting to get to the front and the average pub would sell 1400 extra pints/year.
Japan uses it in cigarette vending machines to check age without ID.
China is already using it through most of the country to track citizen behavior (you have a social credit score in China). Other countries probably have it as well, but are less open.
Some people would like to see it in America. I have mixed feelings about public use of it. It would be nice to have more security camera in public areas and roads, but it would drive the privacy advocates crazy.
When the original story broke the response was overwhelmingly negative. Although the tech has many legitimate uses (including customer service), it comes across as saying, "What happens in Macau stays in Macau...on a server...forever." Some quick damage control PR was needed and lo and behold the G steps in.
Maybe the response is legit but, in that corner of the world, who knows how the various governments interact? Forget it Jake. It's Chinatown.
Thanks for the article idea, Gialmere!