If Leong Sun Iok has his way, facial recognition could soon come to Macau’s casinos. The Macau legislator is pushing for enhanced security at area casinos and hotels and believes that facial recognition technology is the way to go.
On September 7, Leong sent a letter to the Macau government in which he detailed an increase in reported crimes in the city, GGRAsia reported. He stated that, during the first six months of the year, casino robbery reports were up by 50% year-on-year according to data that was made available by the Office of the Secretary for Security.
During the first half of 2017, only six robberies on Macau hotel premises were reported. This year, during the same period, that number had jumped to 13. A robbery is generally defined as an act of theft involving violence or the threat of violence.
Despite Leong’s assertions, there is other evidence to support the belief that crime is actually declining. Gaming-related crimes, according to the government, has shrunk by 3% year-on-year to 840 cases.
To further support the need for increased security, Leong also pointed to a more recent example. Earlier this month, two mainland Chinese citizens in Cotai on a business trip were followed to their hotel room and subsequently robbed. The incident, said Leong, had a “severe impact on Macau’s tourism image.”
Leong asserts that gaming-related crimes typically involve “outsiders” and not locals. Because of this, he stresses that the government needs to create a system that would prohibit access to Macau by anyone who has been blacklisted. This can be accomplished through a facial recognition system, he suggests.
The system would have other benefits, as well. It could also help to keep casino workers, and other unauthorized individuals, off gaming floors during non-working hours. Macau prohibits civil servants from entering casinos and there is also talk of the same legislation being applied to casino workers when they’re off the clock.
Melco Resorts, which at the time was known as Melco Crown, began installing facial recognition technology in its venues in 2015. In 2017, Melco Resorts said that it would be willing to use facial recognition as a social safeguard in order to help it win one of the three casino licenses expected to be issued by Japan for its newly-approved casino market.