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US Casino Guests Might No Longer Need Their IDs To Play

Some US casinos are already using biometrics like facial scans to augment security. It could be on the verge of full-scale deployment.

woman submits to facial scan for verification
Photo by PlayUSA
Derek Helling Avatar
5 mins read

For residents of the United States, the necessity of producing your physical ID to access age-restricted products and services took a downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the health emergency related to that pandemic is over, the necessity of such a practice continues to dwindle.

Biometric technology now allows you to purchase alcohol with a mere scan of your face. That might not be all it allows you to do in the future, though. There are myriad opportunities to utilize that same technology. Those include gaming.

Casinos in the United States have just begun to scratch the surface of the potential of “bio-verification” in their facilities. However, state governments might ultimately delay the full deployment of the technology for casinos.

The technology is typical of the march of technological progress that seems more a matter of when than if.

Your old face might be able to save you some time at the casino

If you’ve been waiting for circumstances to materialize in which looking advanced in years becomes to your benefit, your wait could be over. That’s provided you find yourself in a currently rare but growing set of circumstances.

Jennifer A. Kingson at Axios detailed some of these circumstances, including Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and the SAP Center in San Jose, California. Alcohol retailers at those venues use CLEAR’s ID system instead of checking IDs for sales to those registered with CLEAR according to Kingson.

Last year, the River Spirit Casino and Resort in Tulsa began using the Oosto facial recognition system, noted the Tulsa Journal Record. The casino uses it to not only identify restricted persons but also monitor for potential problematic behavior.

The value of the system for the casino, according to Muscogee Nation Gaming‘s director of compliance Travis Thompson, is that it allows for the elimination of “most of the manual processes associated with identifying bad actors as they enter the casino.” The machines take on those processes instead.

For casino guests, it allows for such security measures to proceed without interruptions to their experiences. Additionally, the technology can streamline verification procedures. An IHL Group analysis from earlier this year estimated that automated bio-verification can reduce staff interventions by as much as 80% along with cutting down on the amount of time each interaction takes.

Andrew O’Brien, product manager for Innovative Technology, concurs with that assessment. O’Brien also feels that casinos could benefit from biometric technology in other ways.

The power of facial scans for casinos in the US

Innovative Technology is the developer and provider of biometric systems like MyCheckr. Alcohol retailers in the United Kingdom started using MyCheckr last summer to improve their compliance practices according to an article by Lois Dean of Yahoo! Finance.

O’Brien touts the convenience and performance of the system for users saying:

“The system returns a result in less than a second. It doesn’t require much interaction from the customer [as it] just needs to see the customer’s face. If the customer is over the challenge age, then this is a very seamless and frictionless experience. It is also completely anonymous, so no personal details are exposed.

No personal data is stored on the devices as all data is deleted after the result is returned. IDs can be faked easily enough, but it is harder to fake your face. In the UK, we have found that this gives the retailer more confidence in estimating age but also more confidence in asking of ID.

We also saw that it reduced any potential volatile situations where a customer was asked to produce ID as it was the system prompting for an ID check and not the retailer.”

The capability of systems like MyCheckr span far beyond just facilitating alcohol sales inside casinos. The technology can also augment protections for vulnerable individuals.

O’Brien stated: “All our products can also perform facial recognition. This functionality is switched off on age-only applications to ensure anonymity of the customers. However, it can be easily switched on by the retailer.

We offer products that can be deployed at multiple touchpoints to increase chances of protecting vulnerable players. ICU Pro/MyCheckr can be deployed at access points. They can check players for age and self-excluded lists at entry points and send alerts if a vulnerable player is detected.

MyCheckr/MyCheckrMini can be deployed at retail/counters to again check the player. Finally, the ICU Lite can be deployed directly into gaming machines where the machine itself can be deactivated if a vulnerable player is detected.

The tech can also be used to monitor player behavior and intervene if excessive losses are recorded or excessive spending is recorded.”

Less crucial but still useful applications for casinos could include integrating facial recognition into cashless or rewards apps and restricting access to VIP areas. With all the potential applications, however, come privacy concerns.

Those concerns could be part of what delays the implementation of these systems in casinos in the US.

Privacy concerns could limit the pace of bio-verification adoption

As O’Brien points out, the legalization of biometrics for age and identity verification in many industries is still very much in its infancy in the United States. Kingson shared that pieces of legislation to push that forward in New York and Washington are currently under consideration.

Whether such legislation will allow casinos to use these systems instead of ID checks given current regulations around gaming is another matter. It might take some time for gambling regulators to agree to such changes.

However, the systems that companies like Innovative Technology deploy are already capable of functioning while protecting identities.

O’Brien continued: “For our age estimation technology, we have achieved GDPR certification (the European Union’s privacy framework). This is based on the definition of the biometric data we use in order to estimate age.

The information we use cannot in turn be used to specifically identify an individual and the data we use is automatically deleted straight after the result. This means it does not fall under the GDPR definition of special category data.

Since it is not defined as special category data, then for our anonymous age estimation we are not required to gain consent. The fact that the devices all operate totally offline and in closed systems adds another layer of protection.

The systems are also not designed for any form of mass surveillance. They are designed to measure only one person at a time, who is situation approximately a meter away from the camera.”

When regulations catch up with the technology, you might be able to leave your ID at home on a trip to your favorite casino. Casinos that adopt this technology as soon as they legally can do so will improve the experience for themselves and their guests as well.

Derek Helling Avatar
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Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

View all posts by Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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