I'm not paranoid, just curious.
October 16, 2008 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Advanced facial recognition in Reno casinos?

I recently spent three days in Reno, Nevada. Since there isn't much to do, I spent at least half an hour in just about every casino. I mostly just walked around, but I played some penny slots too.

At the first casino I entered on my first day there, I was approached by someone in less than 5 minutes and asked for my ID. This didn't happen again, not once, over the next three days!

Was this just a coincidence, or are the casinos cooperatively running some kind of automated facial recognition software that flags people who haven't been IDed yet?

I usually get carded by anyone who checks IDs, and I was dressed in jeans and T-shirt.
posted by qvtqht to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It was a coincidence. The casinos don't have any reason to invest in expensive cutting-edge technology to help prevent people from losing money to them.
posted by ook at 12:34 PM on October 16, 2008

So casinos do invest in all sorts of technology - here's an article from 2002 on facial recognition system in Vegas casinos. A press release from 2000 on the 50th installation of a company's facial recognition system in a casino. The major issues casinos face are keeping known "bad" people out and detecting cheating, either by players or by staff. If your HMO monitored you like a casino does you'd get a text message five minutes before you need to poop.

I do not know whether casinos share this data, but sometimes seemingly unrelated casinos can all be owned by the same company.
posted by GuyZero at 12:46 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

The casinos are using some very advanced surveillance techniques, including facial recognition systems and motion tracking systems, along with software to analyze the actual games (for example, finding card counters based on their betting actions).

Gone are the days of relying on the old Griffin Black Book. Related to GuyZero's link, Biometrica's product Visual Casino includes facial recognition and real-time sharing of data with other casinos. But I don't know if they share all facial records with each other, or just known cheaters. I'm guessing it's only cheaters or other suspicious people. But as the software gets better, it will probably happen.

Here's an interesting interview with a surveillance directory. Frontline also discussed casino security and a request by the FBI for all records for an entire two week period in their episode Spying on the Home Front.
posted by formless at 1:42 PM on October 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I vote coincidence. I recently spent a 3-day weekend in Las Vegas in a similar manner. I, too, was only carded once. However, it happened in the afternoon of the second day.

I think it has more to do with the time of day, the staff, and your demeanor. Also, in my experience playing cheap slot machines near the door will more likely get you IDed than playing the more expensive slots near the bar.
posted by muddgirl at 1:42 PM on October 16, 2008

I grew up in Reno, so I was drawn to this question. I'm with the "coincidence" faction here. Casinos spread rumors about all this high-tech shit they've got, but it's still drunk rednecks that have to evaluate the data.

And another thing: don't play slots. In fact, stay out of downtown all together. Check out the beautiful deserts, mountains and lakes in the Reno environs and forget about gambling altogether.
posted by telstar at 1:49 PM on October 16, 2008

There are regulations that require casino employees to make sure that anyone in a gaming area is of legal age. It is loosely enforced, more so at table games where the pit boss is on the hook, but tucked away playing penny slots or merely strolling around isn't going to attract a lot of attention.

I have been carded while sitting at a slot waiting for a friend to come out of the bathroom and other times not been carded while playing blackjack. Some of the security/gaming personnel like people in any occupation take their jobs more serious than others.

The casinos also know that "I need to see your ID" isn't the best way to greet a guest, especially one who just walked in the front door with money to burn.

The casinos in Reno are pretty small time compared to those in Vegas and Macau. Although they certainly have fairly advanced "eyes in the sky" to keep watch over the table games, I highly doubt that any casino here employs facial recognition software.

Also, I just finished reading "Bringing Down the House" and while casinos do share information among themselves regarding threats to their profitability, a random guy strolling through is not going to be placed in some grand mutual surveillance database of people over 21 and legal to gamble, especially here in Reno.
posted by clearly at 2:07 PM on October 16, 2008

What I've heard from my pro-blackjack buddies is that there is a bank of data on known card counters (and other undesirables) that is sold to casinos. That info and the facial recognition softwear are very expensive. That said, my friends who are pro-gamblers say that the facial recognition softwear is sometwhat crude and easy to fool and that it's the human guards in the video surveillance room who do most of the recognition.
posted by abirae at 2:39 PM on October 16, 2008

I've never been carded in Reno in my life. And I look like I'm 12 years old.

I chalk this up to random happenstance, bud.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:48 PM on October 16, 2008

I'm a frequent Reno visitor and I look underage.

You just happened to encounter a casino employee who was doing his/her job. The coincidence is that it happened in the first five minutes, not that it never happened again.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:26 PM on October 16, 2008

Damn, in Reno they don't card you? At Harrah's here in New Orleans they card you the second you come through the door. I got carded when I went to meet with some of their employees for a meeting, and we were just going to the employee cafeteria!
posted by radioamy at 6:47 PM on October 16, 2008

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