Macau casino operator MGM China Holdings Ltd has yet to install any facial recognition technology at the company’s properties, says the firm’s chief executive Grant Bowie. The company is currently waiting for the Macau government to issue guidelines regarding the use of such technology, he said on Wednesday in comments to local reporters.
“We acknowledged and recognised that there are significant privacy issues” associated with facial recognition technology, said Mr Bowie (pictured in a file photo). “We will be waiting for the [Macau] government to provide clear guidelines as to ‘what’ and ‘how’ we would implement it, if that was deemed appropriate by them,” he added as quoted by Macau public broadcaster TDM.
Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, said last month the use of facial recognition technology needed government approval before it could be introduced on an operational basis inside the city’s gaming venues. At the moment, “two to three” gaming operators were testing such technology in the Macau market, confirmed at the time the bureau’s head, Paulo Martins Chan.
In his Wednesday comments to reporters, Mr Bowie said MGM China had a “very sophisticated surveillance system,” which was “designed to ensure the probity, integrity and safety” of the firm’s gaming operations. “For us, at this point in time, it seems to be sufficient,” said the CEO.
“Technologies change and evolve, but particularly for facial recognition we need clear guidelines from the government,” added Mr Bowie.
MGM China operates the casino hotel MGM Macau, located on the Macau peninsula, and the MGM Cotai casino resort, in Macau’s Cotai district. The latter opened in February 2018.
The chief executive of SJM Holdings Ltd, a rival Macau operator, said in late July that the company was not at that time testing any facial recognition technology at the company’s properties.
“Of course, we would like to make use of every [piece of] high technology in order to improve the efficiency of the operation,” said Ambrose So Shu Fai, adding that the use of facial recognition technology would have to be “done under the regulations and laws in Macau”.
Casino promoter Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd had stated in April – in its Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2018 – it was “preparing to install the latest generation” of facial recognition technology in its venues in Macau and Manila this year.
An article in a recent edition of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Gaming Law Journal, suggested that the casino industry could risk losing consumer trust unless it handled carefully the issues of how it gathers player information and then uses it.
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