Harrahs Casino, Hollywood Casino Sued in Illinois Over Facial Recognition Tech

Posted on: October 22, 2019, 05:05h. 

Last updated on: October 22, 2019, 10:39h.

Two class-action lawsuits have been filed by casino-goers over two Joliet, Illinois casinos’ use of facial recognition technology.

Harrahs Joliet
Facial recognition technology is a big buzzword in the casino industry. But are some casinos breaching data and privacy laws? (Image: NBC)

Patch.com reports that the two almost identical lawsuits accuse Caesars’ Harrah’s Casino and Penn National’s Hollywood Casino of breaching the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act by using facial geometry scans to create and gather customer information without informing the public via a written policy.

“As a result, plaintiff and others similarly situated lost the right to control their biometric identifiers and information,” the lawsuits state.

Defendant[s] failed to inform plaintiff[s] and other rewards program members in writing that it was collecting their biometric identifiers or information, the purpose and length of term for such collection, and failed to obtain their written consent before defendant collected their facial geometry scans,” they argue.

Industry’s Hot New Trend

Facial recognition technology is an important trend in the casino industry. Last week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that exhibitors at the G2E gaming conference in Las Vegas were showcasing innovative technology installed in slot machines that is able to scan a player’s face to create an anonymous ID for that individual.

This allows it to track how frequently a player visits a casino, their preferred games and spending habits, and even which on-property restaurants they favor.

According to LVRJ, this is all in the name of making a player’s experience more “satisfactory.” It can allow casinos to create customer profiles for players who are not signed up for rewards programs.

But to some, it’s intrusive and even sinister.

In the case of the Joliet casinos, facial recognition is used largely to identify known cheaters. The technology is employed within the casinos’ security cameras, identifying players by scanning their facial features and comparing it against a database of stored facial geometry templates.

Reckless or Negligent

“Unlike other companies in Illinois, defendants failed to take notice and follow the requirements of the Biometric Information Privacy Act, even though the law was enacted in 2008 and numerous articles and court filings were published about the law’s requirement before defendants committed the violations alleged in this complaint,” the lawsuits argue.

“As a result, defendants’ violations of the Biometric Information Privacy Act were reckless, or in the alternative, negligent,” they contend.

The case has been brought by several plaintiffs who gambled regularly at the casinos and are members of their respective rewards programs. They note the case likely involves thousands of others, making a class-action suit the only appropriate option.

They are asking for liquidated or actual monetary damages — whichever is higher — “for each violation of the Biometric Information Privacy Act.”

Last year, Harrah’s casino alone admitted 1.29 million customers, with an average daily admission of 3,536.

The casinos have yet to file responses to the lawsuits.