New Konami Casino Facial Recognition Technology Could Rival Reward Cards

Posted on: October 22, 2019, 03:28h. 

Last updated on: October 22, 2019, 03:58h.

Konami Gaming will offer its latest facial recognition tech for slot machines or table games next year as an option to loyalty cards, as privacy rights continue to be fought over in US courts.

US Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) proposed a federal privacy bill earlier this year. So far, it has not been enacted. (Image: The Wall Street Journal)

Konami is in the final stages of developing its new gambling technology. By using a camera, a gambler can be quickly recognized if they have shared a photograph with the property’s rewards desk, according to KSNV News.

It will mean smoother play for patrons. Guests will not have to use a player’s card — or rewards card — or even manually sign up. Instead, the venue relies on photo recognition and can rate players.

Overall, such technology improves casino security. Venues who use such systems will find safer operations, the company said.

“They can start to identify suspicious activity,” Jay Bertsch, vice president of Global System Sales at Konami Gaming, was quoted by KSNV. They can “identify people who probably shouldn’t be in there — who are barred from a regulatory standpoint or [are] barred patrons.”

The cardless solution is included in the Synkros casino loyalty system. For instance, the Synk Vision facial recognition system and the SynkConnect player mobile app.

Players can also be targeted by casinos to receive relevant offers, rewards, and venue news. Casinos can benefit from this targeted marketing.

Such data collected through facial recognition can monitor how frequently a player visits a casino, their preferred games, and spending habits.

Guests can always opt out of the technology. They can also have facial recognition data collected by the casino deleted.

Konami is additionally offering an anti-money laundering system known as SYNK31. It lets casinos track and review data, as well as fulfill regulatory requirements.

Several competing systems focus on player safety rather than loyalty programs, reports. Novibet and Casumo employ facial recognition to verify ages of patrons, the report said. Japan and other locations want to use facial recognition as a streamlined way to identify guests with problem gambling.

Technology Leads to Lawsuits

But the use of facial recognition technology has led to lawsuits in US courts. Two class-action lawsuits were filed recently by casino-goers over two Joliet, Illinois casinos use of facial recognition.

The new legal actions claim that Caesars’ Harrah’s Casino and Penn National’s Hollywood Casino violated the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act. Information was gathered without first informing the public via a written policy, the suit adds.

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

Casinos are not alone in the use of such technology. It is being used or developed similarly for many sectors of the economy. But gaming venues have used facial recognition tools since the 1990s.

“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,” Peter Hanna, a privacy attorney who is also the president of the ACLU of Illinois’ Next Generation Society, told in July.

Additional Laws Possible

Nationally, US Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) proposed a federal privacy bill earlier this year. It includes protections for biometric data, such as opt-in consent, Hanna said. Masto filed the bill in February, and it was assigned to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It has not yet moved past the committee for a floor vote.

On state levels, Illinois, Texas, and Washington state already have biometric data laws in place governing the individual states. Also, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) takes effect in 2020, and other states could enact legislation.