Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd has installed face recognition technology at its casinos in the city, enabling security staff to identify banned persons and turn them away, according to a press release issued by the supplier of the system.
Software developed by Germany’s Cognitec Systems GmbH detects human faces captured in live video streams and compares them to databases of banned persons. Security staff are then sent instant alerts about the presence of the person on the property.
“We are confident that our joint commitment to this significant project will result in safer casino environments for casino staff and patrons,” said Leroy Daniel, executive director of surveillance operations at Melco Crown, in a statement issued by Cognitec.
Melco Crown said in a statement emailed to GGRAsia on Tuesday evening: “As a responsible leader in the leisure and entertainment sector, Melco Crown Entertainment continuously adopts the highest world standards in technology in order to optimise the guest experience as well its business operations.”
Stephen Meltz, managing director Asia Pacific at Cognitec, described his firm’s FaceVACS face recognition technology as “the first system of its kind in the casino market”.
Market-wide Macau recorded a 38 percent rise year-on-year in suspected cases of gaming-related crime in 2015, according to police data disclosed in late January. Police officials have admitted that the recent increase in the number of reported crimes is likely to be related to the ongoing revenue decline in the city’s casino industry.
Some people request exclusion from Macau’s casinos. Under that initiative, a total of 355 people were barred from the city’s casinos in full-year 2015, up by 26.8 percent from the previous year, said the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, which maintains the list.
In Singapore – which also runs a casino self-exclusion scheme and mandates a levy on local players – all casino patrons are required to provide an identity card or passport as a condition of entry.
Macau casinos typically encourage mass-market players to sign up for a membership card by offering them incentives and rewards. Not all accept, which can make it a challenge for Macau casinos to identify their individual customers.
Nasdaq-listed Melco Crown is 60 percent owner of Studio City, a Cotai casino resort that opened on October 27 without any junket rooms – a Macau first for the current generation of large scale so-called integrated resorts.
Macau’s gaming promoters – also known as junkets, that arrange for high roller gamblers to come to the city and organise credit for them to play – have their own methods of due diligence on players and of sharing information on problem customers.
One due diligence method that has been used in the past by the Macau junket sector – a ‘name and shame’ website called 99world.com – fell foul of the city’s data protection law.
On February 1, a new group called the Macau Gaming Information Association was launched. The association has a new software application – said to provide up to date news about the Macau gaming industry and the junket sector in particular – it was confirmed to GGRAsia at the time. Those seeking access to the app will have to apply for it in writing and be approved first.
Some of the biggest recent recorded losses to the Macau casino industry have come as a result of the alleged actions of people associated with the industry.
In April 2014, a junket operator called Huang Shan fled with an amount reported to be as much as HKD10 billion (US$1.28 billion).
In September 2015, Macau junket operator Dore Entertainment Co Ltd announced it had been a victim of internal fraud by a former employee. Investors in the cage operations of Dore filed complaint claims amounting to at least HKD520 million as of October 31, according to media reports.
In early January the city’s police received a complaint claim by the casino at L’Arc, a casino hotel on Macau peninsula, that VIP room funds totalling HKD99.7 million had been stolen.
Updated at 8.06pm on Feb 16
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings