Changing privacy and data protection laws could change casino biometrics use

Casinos in the U.S. have used facial recognition since the 1990s, but those deployments may have to be adjusted based on potential changes to federal privacy or data protection law, according to Casino.org.

Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto proposed a federal privacy bill in February which would require opt-in consent for collecting biometric data from individuals. The bill is currently with the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“The use of biometrics in casinos has only become more sophisticated and widespread… [and] every day every person walking through a casino is having their facial geometry captured and processed,” privacy attorney and ACLU of Illinois’ Next Generation Society President Peter Hanna told Casino.org.

Hanna says the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) may impact some casinos in that state when it is enacted in 2020, based on access to information and anti-discrimination provisions. He suggests Illinois’ BIPA is a good model for other states considering similar legislation.

Biometrics are still likely to have a place in casinos, however.

UNLV Boyd School of Law Professor of Gaming Law Anthony Cabot said facial recognition can be “an excellent tool for identifying terrorist and criminal activity in the casino environment.”

“Biometric information collected on casino-goers should not be retained indefinitely, but to the extent it is retained, it should be used only for the very limited purpose for which it is collected,” Hanna says.

Macau facial recognition rules clarified

Casinos in Macau can use biometric facial recognition systems, but only for security purposes, according to the state’s gambling regulator.

Yogonet reports that the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has confirmed that equipment suppliers are testing facial recognition equipment in casinos, but that the installations are not complete, and the tests must be run in accord with the city’s privacy protection laws.

Any use of the biometric technology to gather information about gamblers would violate that law, so both trials and any eventual production deployments would have to avoid doing so.

It has been speculated that Macau casinos may soon have to implement facial biometrics with their security systems.

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