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Macau Facial Recognition Technology Regulatory Approval Pending

July 24, 2019
Face Recognition systems in Casinos

Macau gaming operator SJM Holdings is yet to install facial recognition systems in their venues.  Ambrose So Shu Fai, SJM Holdings CEO has not ruled out the use of the technology in the future. Mr. So has stressed that although they would like to improve the efficiency of their operations using high tech, it all has to be done following the Macau laws and regulations. SJM Holdings is not the only gaming operator looking into facial recognition technology. In April Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd stated that it was preparing to install the latest facial recognition technology at venues in their 2018 report.

Director of the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, Paulo Martins Chan has said that before the introduction of facial recognition technology, an operational basis inside gaming venues in the city would need the government's approval. As it stands "two to three" gaming operators in the Macau market were testing the technology out.

How Will the Facial Recognition technology Work?

Over the years, facial recognition tools have been used to improve security in gambling venues.  The tools are used to detect problem gamblers and pinpoint players banned from the venues. Earlier this year it was revealed that there are properties in Macau that already have artificial intelligence technology in place. The technology is used to single out VIPs, monitor patrons' habits and identify players who are likely to spend and lose big. The data is collected via facial recognition technology, TV systems and radio-frequency identification enabled chips.

Illegal Websites under Investigation

From 2019 the Macau Bureau has investigated over 500 illegal gambling websites with over 300 websites having their operations suspended. On the bureau's website, it was stated that the Macau government has never issued interactive gaming licenses to any companies. Due to that, all interactive gambling websites online are considered illegal.

Where to from here?

The regulation and use of biometric surveillance could become part of a national debate. Concerns have been raised as to what the gaming venues intend on doing with the data collection and facial recognition. Another concern is whether or not the high-tech methods of collecting the patrons' data is violating their rights. US senator, Catherine Cortez Mastro has proposed a federal privacy bill which included the protection of biometric data. The bill has not moved past the Senate Committee on Commerce since it was filled and assigned to the committee in February.