Advancements in Facial Recognition

By now, I'm sure most readers are familiar with facial recognition, but I suspect few have seen firsthand how powerful this technology has become.

The unparalleled speed and accuracy, along with its seemingly limitless ability to recognize and store faces, are truly awe-inspiring. As someone who works with this emerging technology, I can assure you that the hype is real. This technology works and works well. For better or worse, it's here to stay; there's no going backward. There’s no putting this genie back in the bottle. 


  • ai generated photo of facial recognition
  • facial recognition ai image


So, What Will We Do with This New Tech?

When most people are first introduced to a facial recognition system, their initial thought is to use it as a tool to keep certain patrons—such as previously expelled patrons, skilled gamblers seeking an edge, cheaters, and those who have self-excluded due to personal reasons, such as a gambling addiction—out. While this is a reasonable starting point, it is just the beginning of many potential applications.


Not Just for Bad Guys ...

There is no limit to the number of identities that can be enrolled into a facial recognition database. Anyone—and everyone—can be added: every actor and director, every food critic and chef, every current employee, every past employee, every reporter, and every cameraman.

This is likely game-changing news for the hospitality industry. Hosts can now be alerted when celebrities or athletes enter their properties, and food and beverage departments can receive notifications when social media influencers visit their establishments. 

Although they may not star in movies, even a modest social media influencer typically has more than 60,000 followers, a significant reach by any measure. To put that in perspective, a single positive post can organically reach an audience equivalent to three T-Mobile Arenas. When compared to traditional advertising, extending a little extra hospitality to influencers will become a powerful new channel for food and beverage marketing. 


Welcome Back

Cookies tend to make online browsing more convenient. Websites have the ability to remember us, and we’re not bothered to enter our passwords multiple times a day. There is, however,  a new type of “browser cookie,” and it no longer resides within your computer; it is now your face. And systems will begin to associate metadata with it. 

This will initially include basic details such as frequency of visits, date since the last visit, and duration of the visit. It will soon expand—as databases tend to do—to include information such as name, age, education, current or past employers, marital status, estimated income, and more. 

Does that sound far-fetched? Consider the amount of information publicly displayed on your LinkedIn profile, accompanied by your headshot—or rather, your new "cookie." Unlike a web browser, there is no option to clear history—at least not without the help of a plastic surgeon.


  • ai generated illustration of man in casino
  • ai generated illustration of woman with numbers across face


Know Your Visitor

The era of anonymous visitors is likely coming to an end. Establishments will soon have to make conscious decisions about who is permitted to enter their facilities, and who isn’t. Will it be open to everyone? Maybe. 

For years, surveillance departments have remained hyperfocused on "advantage players," spending countless hours observing gameplay and determining if someone is playing blackjack strategically. It is often standard procedure to ask a successful blackjack player to leave and never return. But what if someone has a violent criminal history? Will they still be welcome?

At the time of writing this article, there are currently 7,386 registered sex offenders residing in Nevada, with 4,500 of them living near the Las Vegas Strip. Each of these individuals has a high-resolution mug shot publicly visible, which can be easily imported into a facial recognition system database.


The Other Side of the Coin: The Burden of Knowledge

We will soon be able to know more about our guests than ever before, and the equivalent of a small background check can occur the moment a person appears in front of a camera. 

Will your property willingly allow violent ex-convicts in the door? Or will you preemptively ban them?  

Is it cynical to believe that past behavior will accurately predict future behavior? Or is it naive to give every visitor a clean slate on their first visit? How will we balance safety and inclusivity? Is it better to remain ignorant?

These are examples of the questions that we will soon have to answer. They mark the beginning of policies and procedures that will need to be implemented in the near future and highlight the new responsibility of those who will inevitably wield these powerful tools.

You have the right to refuse service to anyone—will you?


As published in Gaming & Leisure Summer 2023 Edition.