Thursday, January 30, 2020

Alabama GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison appears to be facial-recognition company's point person for making in-roads with the gambling industry

Jessica Medeiros Garrison participates in a panel discussion on facial recognition at a gaming expo in Las Vegas. 

News coverage of a shadowy facial-recognition company called Clearview AI has focused so far on the firm's efforts to attract business from law enforcement, with The New York Times reporting that more than 600 policing agencies have started using Clearview's technology. The company, however, is pitching its services to other business sectors, including the gaming industry -- with Alabama GOP operative Jessica Medeiros Garrison apparently leading Clearview's efforts to attract casino dollars.

Multiple news outlets have reported that Garrison appeared on a panel about facial recognition last October hosted by the Global Gaming Expo at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas. From a report at

Panelist Jessica Medeiros Garrison, president of MDM27, a business development consultancy, expanded on the technology improvements, noting some products have artificial intelligence and neural networks that can adjust for angles and lighting when capturing images of peoples' faces.

"This artificial intelligence really didn't take off until the last two years," Garrison said. Not only are law enforcement agencies using it to solve crimes faster, they are finding it helps solve multiple cases simultaneously. The technology has assisted in the areas of financial fraud, violent crimes and human trafficking.

Is it a job killer?

As with other types of self-service technology, facial recognition raises the question of replacing human labor. To this point, Garrison said organizations using the technology are repurposing employees to higher-value tasks.

A Web site called also reported on Garrison's panel appearance. Why would the gaming industry be interested in facial-recognition technology?

Casinos finally can get facial recognition technology that works, but operators must be prepared to handle all the information it will provide, a Global Gaming Expo panel said.

In the past couple of years, the technology has advanced dramatically, providing security experts with the ability to identify violent criminals or blacklisted patrons before they enter a venue or offering marketing executives the ability to obtain even more revealing data about players.

But the technology also could end the “didn’t know/can’t tell” defense for not identifying suspected “chip walkers” and others involved in potentially questionable transactions.

“The reward side is probably the sexier topic for a lot of folks in gaming,” said Nasr Sattar, vice president of NRT Technology Corp.’s Innovation Group. “Compliance is also a very risky area. No one wants to get a million dollar fine for not knowing who that person is and not reporting it.”

Sattar spoke Thursday at a G2E panel discussion on “Customer Identification Using Facial Recognition Technology: The Future is Now.” Also on the panel were Jessica Medeiros Garrison, president of MDM27 Holdings, whose company Clearview offers facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies, and David Logue, vice president of security, surveillance and nightclub compliance for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Alec Massey, director of PwC Connected Solutions, moderated.

What insights did Garrison impart to the gaming audience? From the account at

Medeiros Garrison said any facial recognition program more than three or four years old is “definitely a super-crappy, old algorithm.”

She said current versions rely on recent improvements in artificial intelligence and machine learning that can account for differences in viewing angles and lighting. She said online security verification tests that require a user to identify which of several pictures contain a stop sign, for example, are a way of training an artificial intelligence algorithm.

What about other topics raised at the panel discussion? From

The adoption of facial recognition software to identify customers will increase in the next few years, thanks to improvements in the technology though it has also been somewhat controversial, according to a panel talk at the recent Global Gaming Expo held at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas.

Panelists participating in the session, "Customer identification using facial recognition: the future is now," agree the technology is more reliable and robust. Accuracy has been a main challenge with facial recognition, along with privacy concerns, since businesses and law enforcement began using the technology several years ago.

"We're seeing (facial recognition) technologies actually performing now," said panel moderator Alec Massey, director of PwC Connected Solutions practice for gaming, hospitality and leisure clients. "There's a lot of good that comes with facial recognition."

Facial recognition is a form of biometric identification that self-service kiosks are using to improve customer service, the others being fingerprint, retinal, palm print and thumb print scanning. While fingerprint scanning is considered the most common type of biometric identification, facial recognition is gaining in popularity.

Several restaurants have introduced facial recognition kiosks in recent years, including Burger Fi, based in South Florida; Caliburger, based in Pasadena, California; UFood Grill in Owings Mills, Maryland; Wao Bao, based in Chicago; and Malibu Poke, based in Dallas. Airports, hotel and casinos have also used facial recognition kiosks.

Panelists said facial recognition has a number of potential benefits for gaming executives, reports

Logue said the most immediate use for facial recognition is in keeping venues safe because it can scan people in a crowd and quickly match hits on people with criminal or violent backgrounds.

“If you can identify them right then and stop them, think how much safer your employees and patrons and everybody is,” he said. In Nevada, casinos and other venues have the right to refuse entry in such a case.

He said the system would require databases with hundreds of thousands of images, and a need to hire additional people to manage the databases and confront those identified as risks.

Sattar said facial recognition can be vital to a casino’s handling of its own risks and rewards.

The risk side includes the reporting and compliance requirements for all types of casinos transactions.

He said one use is with someone suspected of being a chip walker, a patron who fails to cash a large amount of chips, presumably to be used for illegal payments outside the casino.

“You’ve associated that patron with a face. That goes with your compliance tools,” he said.

“In the old days, if you didn’t know, you didn’t have to report it. That’s rapidly changed.”

On the reward side, Sattar said facial recognition could eliminate gambling’s “last black hole of information:” rating table-game players.

Instead of ratings based on brief observations by harried pit supervisors using pencil and paper, facial recognition not only would recognize the player but use technology to track bet size, side bets placed, and other factors.

“There are all sorts of implications that come out of that,” he said. “You get player utilization, you understand your side bets a lot better, you understand your base bets a lot better. And finally, you understand who your players are and how you want to market to them.”

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