Monday, July 18, 2011

Facial Recognition, and Extending Exclusions

In April we noted that Ontario was in the midst of installing cameras tied to facial recognition software to help enforce casino exclusions. Apparently the system is now up and running in 19 of Ontario's 27 casinos, with complete coverage slated by the end of the year. One big hurdle that the proponents of the technology claim to have overcome is safeguarding the information identifying gamblers from intrusions by hackers.

The last line of the linked article indicates one potential penalty that can be applied to a self-excluded gambler who attempts to breach the agreement by sneaking into a casino. The regulatory agency can unilaterally extend the length of the exclusion of such miscreants, turning a voluntary self-exclusion into a third-party, mandated exclusion. I would hope that this move would be complemented with a positive step, an offer of treatment for gambling addiction. People who violate exclusion agreements, particularly ones with non-trivial penalties attached for non-compliance, are indicating that they have relatively serious control problems, perhaps even within the subset of gamblers who exclude -- so there is something to be said for directing treatment resources at these people. Angela Hawken, who promotes the analgous approach for drug users within the criminal justice system, calls such treatment targeting "behavioral triage."