Macau’s gaming regulator says it has currently “no intention” to issue guidelines requesting casino operators to use facial recognition technology to assist in the enforcement of the city’s coming ban on local gaming workers entering local casino floors outside work hours.
The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also known by the Portuguese-language acronym DICJ, gave the information to GGRAsia in an emailed statement in response to our enquiry.
Macau’s out-of-hours ban for gaming workers – expected to cover a total of 54,000 casino employees hired either by casino operators or by junket operators – was approved by the city’s Legislative Assembly a year ago and is due to come into effect on December 27.
The gaming bureau said in its email to us it had “no intention to issue any specific guideline to request the casino operators to use a facial recognition system” to assist in enforcement of the ban.
But the regulator added: “If the casino operators want to use new technology to assist in the detection, they must ensure that the operation [of it] must strictly adhere to the data protection laws and regulations of Macau, and must be carried out solely for the protection of people’s life and property.”
A senior executive of Macau casino operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd recently told GGRAsia the group was ready and willing to install gantries with facial recognition technology at casino entry points should any jurisdiction in which it operates wish to do so. Melco Resorts also has casino operations in the Philippines and is building a gaming resort in the Republic of Cyprus.
In late June, DICJ confirmed in a statement emailed to GGRAsia that “some” of the city’s casino concessionaires were using facial recognition technology inside their gaming venues but were only allowed to do so for “protection and safety of persons and property” and in line with local data protection rules.
The Macau legislation regarding the ban on off-duty casino workers being on gaming floors does not contain provisions for establishment of a database listing the details of the individuals covered by it.
Nonetheless under the fresh law, casino operations staff and other employees working at the gaming floors – including casino cage workers, food and drink outlet workers, cleaners and those connected to surveillance operations – are all subject to the ban. The exact job positions concerned – as defined respectively by each of the six Macau casino operators – are listed on the DICJ website.
In its latest commentary to us, DICJ noted that it had conducted specific training for its gaming floor inspectors in relation to the new rules. Those officials would be in charge of checking whether the new casino entry ban rules were “properly enforced” in the city’s casinos.
The regulator also told us it had also held several consultation sessions with the city’s casino operators, to explain the terms of the off-duty ban, and to help operators train their own employees on compliance with the new rules.
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Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu
Sanford Bernstein analysts