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The Star Casino to install facial recognition technology

Tue, Mar 12, 11:45am by Staff Writer

The Star Casino in Sydney is going to deploy facial recognition technology according to The Daily Telegraph.

The move is part of a $10 million security upgrade to the casino after a dealer was caught trying to steal a $5,000 chip by hiding it in his sock. The incident was caught by CCTV cameras directly above his head.

The anonymous employee of Sydney’s Star Casino was caught red-handed by the complexes security cameras, with footage released on Sunday.

The footage shows the dealer fidgeting with the tray of chips while he talks to patrons.

In a subtle move, he pinches a chip with his pinky and ring finger, exposing it briefly to the cameras before stowing it in his palm.

He then looks at the ground, before reaching underneath the table for a few seconds and resurfacing.

The dealer shows his open palm face-up to the camera – a move called “showing clean hands’ which is instilled on employees during training to prove they don’t have any chips in their hands.

The dealer then shifts his now-empty hand across the table and towards the deck of cards on his left to continue the game as if the theft had not happened.

The facial recognition cameras will be deployed in high-risk areas over the coming months and be able to match peoples’ faces to those held in a database of known offenders.

The Star’s surveillance chief Catherine Clark said: “it will also be incorporated into our customer service where we can recognise customers and welcome them back personally, telling them their favourite drink is waiting at the bar.”

As part of the upgrade, The Star is also getting new door alarms, ID scanners, infra-red night vision cameras and motion sensors.

“Surveillance here is a 24-hour, seven day a week operation. On a Saturday night we have 150 people working in our surveillance and security teams,” Clark added, saying that she gets her best ideas from “watching movies like Oceans 11.”

VIP turnover down amid cautious Chinese economy

While the Star is keeping an eye on its patrons and dealers, it will also be keeping tabs on its VIP turnovers, which has dipped markedly in the past six months.

The Australian casino giant has reported a 33 per cent drop in the six months to December 31, 2018 to $20.7 billion, with VIP turnover at its biggest casino in Sydney, down 49 per cent, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

The house win rate was above average against Asian gamblers, mainly from China, in the half-year period, which helped drive the decline in turnover, The Star said on Thursday.

It explained that gamblers tended to play fewer hands and would tap out earlier when they lost their money faster.

Chief executive of The Star Entertainment Group Matt Bekier said there had also been a noticeable increase in “caution” exercised by wealthy foreign gamblers.

“The caution relates to uncertainly relating to the trade war between China and the US,” he said.

“They just don’t take as much risk as they might have 12 months ago.”

The Chinese economy recorded its slowest rate of growth in nearly three decades in 2018 after simmering trade tensions with America.

The Star’s rival casino company in Australia, Crown Resorts, this week also revealed that it had suffered a drop in spending by high-roller gamblers.

Crown’s executive chairman John Alexander also attributed this to China’s softening economy.

Gamblers operators across the globe have been gripped by growing uncertainty about how the fortunes of their lucrative high roller programs, where mainly Chinese punters playing baccarat can turn over thousands of dollars a hand.

Star Entertainment runs casinos in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast said that it believed the global VIP gambling market remained robust and a dip won’t be a cause for long-term concern.

“Once the uncertainty settles down, I expect it to come back,” Mr Bekier said. “We are not pushing the panic button … we are executing our strategies.”

Star’s revenues fell short of Macquarie Research’s expected $135 million and JP Morgan’s forecasting of $129 million to net $124 million, a 2.4 per cent downfall after tax in the half-year period.

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