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Cameras in Casinos: A Double Standard

Published on October 25, 2014, 4:32 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

A double standard exists at all casinos: it's okay for proprietors to videotape and photograph guests, but guests are not permitted to videotape or photograph anything inside a casino. There's a practical reason for this: a person using a camera at a gaming table could be cheating, and the casino would need some kind of footage to prove the crime in a court of law. The recent advent of Google Glass, a wearable computer and recording device, has brought the issue of cameras in casinos to the forefront of public awareness once again.

Google Glass in details
Google Glass in details

Google Glass and Gambling

Google Glass, one of the hottest and most coveted high-tech gadgets around, has already gotten its walking papers from casinos in several states. Although only about 1,500 people have Google Glass, policies have already been instated to keep the gadget out of casinos. Gamblers wearing the device at a poker or blackjack table look like they could be cheating, according to David Rebuck, director of the New Jersey Division of Gambling Enforcement. Even if these gamblers are not cheating, the mere fact that they're wearing the device could hurt the integrity and public opinion of the game, Rebuck said.

About Google Glass
Google Glass is popular with Internet and gadget nerds, but some people have never heard of it. Basically, the Glass is a tiny computer-like device that is attached to the right lens of a person's regular glasses. The device consists of a small screen and a swipe panel which allows the wearer to page through Internet sites, take videos and photographs, and employ voice-recognition technology to complete iPhone-like tasks like getting directions and surfing the web.

The Magic of Google Glass

When a person attaches Google Glass to their regular spectacles, they see the screen in their periphery. The screen appears large to the viewer, although it is actually quite tiny. With the swipe of a finger or a simple eyeball movement, a wearer can page through Internet sites while simultaneously walking, talking, and even driving. Those who have taken Glass for a test spin say it's a novel experience to see the Internet hovering in their periphery on a giant, floating screen.

Some say they like the convenience of seeing the web before their very eyes, without having to reach down and activate a smart phone. Some admit they feel safer navigating GPS directions with Glass than they do with a cell phone behind the wheel of a car. Some like the device's voice recognition feature, while others find it a bit disarming. If a wearer wants to take a photograph, for example, he need only say, “Take a picture,” and Glass will take a picture. This is precisely the technology that casino proprietors want to prohibit.

The Likelihood of Glass in Casinos

Google Glass costs $1,500 and currently is not for sale. The company took applications for the product during a test phase called “Glass Explorer” and a handful of people got to try it. Those people have taken the gadget for a test drive; some critics have posted reviews online.

At this point, gamblers at casinos are statistically unlikely to have the device, as only about 1,000 own the pilot gadget. Still, it only takes one person armed with a high-tech recording device to pull off a heist like the recent “Ocean's 11” drama in Australia's Crown Casino of Melbourne. In that incident, a card player who secretly linked himself to an accomplice using the facility's surveillance cameras walked away with $33 million dollars in just a matter of minutes (click to read).

Preparing for Potential Crimes

A gambler armed with audio or video recording technology could easily slip out the casino door with millions of dollars. Casino managers are aware of this and want to be prepared for potential Google Glass crimes. Facilities in Las Vegas, Ohio, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania have joined Atlantic City casinos in their prohibition of the technology. More casinos will likely follow suit, especially if Google Glass takes off in the same manner as tablet computers and smart phones.

Cameras in Casinos

In general, cameras and other recording devices are banned from customer use in casinos because of the potential for cheating that exists. Guests are allowed to carry and use their smart phones, but if foul play is suspected, security will either remove the guest or ask that the phone be put away. Conversely, security cameras are a standard part of operation in any casino. Video surveillance cameras help catch cheating guests and protect facilities from egregious losses.

Camera Catches Cleveland Woman Swapping Cards

Jessica Encarnacion caught by the Horseshoe casino's camera
Jessica Encarnacion caught by the Horseshoe casino's camera

In August 2012, Jessica Encarnacion was spotted trading poker cards with a partner on a video surveillance camera at the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland. Encarnacion was later acquitted of any wrongdoing on the grounds that she was a new card player and her friend was simply coaching her on how to play. Since the Cleveland Horseshoe opened in May of 2012, over 25 people have been accused of cheating based on video surveillance footage. There have been at least 14 convictions.

Poker Champ Accused of Cheating

The same month of Encarnacion was spotted swapping cards, poker champion Phillip Ivey won $12 million over the course of two days playing baccarat at London's Crockfords Casino. Based on security camera footage, Ivey was accused of studying the backs of the cards for imperfections and irregularities, then using that information to unfairly win the game. Ivey has denied the charges and filed a his own lawsuit, saying that Crockfords has not paid him all the money they owe him. The outcome of Ivey's case has yet to be determined.

Cameras and Casinos

Video cameras and surveillance systems are an integral part of any casino, valuable for their loss prevention qualities. Footage is often used to prosecute gamblers, particularly card players, who are suspected of cheating. For the same reason that video surveillance is important to casino management, guests are prohibited from bringing recording devices like Google Glass into casinos. As technology advances, casinos will have to continue adjusting their policies about cameras in casinos.


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