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Regulators say Atlantic City casinos can ban Google glasses with cameras

Regulators say Atlantic City casinos can ban Google glasses with cameras

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Casino cheaters have come a long way since the days of using loaded dice or concealing an ace up their sleeve.

New Jersey regulators fear that high-tech gadgetry could take cheating to the next level, so they have given Atlantic City’s casinos the authority to ban Google Inc.’s newly developed computerized eyewear from the gambling floor.

Known as Glass, the spectacles are equipped with a tiny Web camera and wireless computer. They can take pictures, shoot video and surf the Internet. And they could give cheaters the ability to spy on someone else’s hand during a poker game, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement says.

“For example, if these eyeglasses were worn during a poker game, they could be used to broadcast a patron’s hand to a confederate or otherwise be used in a collusive manner,” the division warned in a newly issued advisory to the casino industry.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. has banned the Internet-equipped eyewear from the gambling floors and showrooms at its casinos nationwide, company spokesman Gary Thompson said. Caesars Entertainment is the world’s largest casino company and owns the Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat casinos in Atlantic City.

“We’ve taken the action because gaming regulations across the nation ban the use of computers or recording devices while gambling,” Thompson said. “In some states, in fact, such usage is considered a crime and subjects the user to arrest.”

Rick Santoro, a casino security expert in Atlantic City, said he believes New Jersey is the first jurisdiction in the country to take formal action allowing casinos to ban the Google eyewear.

“It is rational and prudent for New Jersey to bar these devices,” said Santoro, owner of the security consulting firm LLC. “I’m not aware of anyone else in the country to do this yet. This wouldn’t be the first time that New Jersey is a step ahead in making sure that the games are properly run.”

Santoro said the Google eyeglasses would give gamblers the same unfair advantage they would have if they had a laptop computer or iPad with them while sitting at the gambling tables.

“This is the era we live in,” Santoro said. “This is the era of the Jetsons and Dick Tracy, where advances in technology have provided opportunities for people who have ill intent.”

The Division of Gaming Enforcement has given the casinos the authority to ban the eyewear, believing this is the best way to avoid potential legal complications for prosecuting suspected cheaters.

“Such improper use of the eyeglasses would violate (New Jersey law) and would be a criminal offense. However, prosecution would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the glasses were being used for cheating,” the division said.

The division added that even if the eyewear isn’t used for cheating, the mere presence of such a high-tech device at the gambling tables “would lead to the perception that something untoward could be occurring, thereby undermining public confidence in the integrity of gaming.”

Empowered by the division’s new advisory, casinos will be able to ban the eyewear on the casino floor, in the simulcasting parlors, poker rooms or any other areas where gambling occurs. Casinos will have the right to evict customers if they refuse to remove the glasses.

In the casino industry, high-tech cheating scandals are hardly far-fetched. In 2007, for instance, authorities broke up a ring at Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa that involved the use of high-tech surveillance cameras to cheat poker players who participated in private games. The private games were not connected to Borgata’s normal casino operations.

The scam artists at Borgata used strategically placed surveillance cameras to peek at the players’ hands. The information was secretly relayed to an accomplice who wore an undetectable radio receiver in his ear. Computer programs and marked playing cards also were used by the cheaters to enhance their chances of winning, authorities said.

Contact Donald Wittkowski:


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