Saskatchewan Gaming Corp. eyes facial recognition

Ocean’s 11 might have been a very different movie if George Clooney and co. had to contend with facial recognition software.

Some of the largest casinos in Las Vegas, Nev., and around the world have the technology in place not just to prevent the multi-million dollar theft portrayed in

the Clooney film, but to scan for people stealing buckets of slot-machine tokens or counting cards.

Toronto-based iView Systems Monday said it has sold its iTrak incident reporting and risk management system to the Saskatchewan Gaming Corp. for its two casinos in Moose Jaw and Regina. The system is already in place at seven of MGM’s casinos including the MGM Grand, the Bellagio and New York, New York.

“”If you consider the explosion of gaming in North America, if not the world — these people need systems to accurately track not only subjects, but any type of instance that occurs within their facility,”” said iView president Martin Drew.

The iTrak system operates off a database of faces of known casino criminals, cheats and counters compiled by the casino. Using facial scanning software, casino security are immediately alerted if the software matches a face in the casino to a face in the software. The more likely the match, the more severe the alert.

Saskatchewan Gaming Corp. isn’t ready to use the facial recognition component yet, said Doug Casper, executive director of security and surveillance. The Crown corporation has, for now, installed the software for training purposes.

“”Hopefully we’ll be able to use that facial recognition, which is sort of the talk of the industry,”” he said. “”We haven’t introduced that portion yet because I don’t think (the casinos) are quite ready, but in the very near future we’ll be able to test it.””

Saskatchewan Gaming Corp. installed its own in-house developed system several years ago, but is ready to upgrade to something more sophisticated, said Casper. The system will be used to help train staff to spot cheaters, but also for internal audits of security practices.

The incidence of cheating is generally low within the Saskatchewan casinos, said Casper. Regina and Moosejaw, with 700 and 100 slots respectively, are small operations compared to larger casinos in Ontario like Niagara and Windsor. “”We are expanding, but a lot of our market is known to us. The chances of a large-scale cheating opportunity is probably less,”” he said.

Seasoned casino cheats sometimes use wearable computers or telemetry devices, said Drew, but one of the main forms of cheating — while not technically cheating — is card counting. “”There’s the MIT team that everybody knows about. They’re trained to count cards to shift the odds into their favour. Although it’s not illegal, the casinos have the right to (ban) these people. Over the years, casi

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