How Closely Are Casinos Tracking Me?

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Casino players cards

Casinos run on big data. That’s probably not great news for privacy-minded folks. Here’s an example of a question we received recently on the topic:

I know casinos issue reward points when you play with your card inserted, which means they know how much you play. How specific is their tracking of your play? For example, can they track what specific games you play, how much you win or lose at that game, and when you played that game? If so, can that information be shared with advertisers? I am concerned about privacy when using the player’s card.

Steven M.

You should expect the tracking to be incredibly specific – they absolutely do track which game you’re on, when you played, how much you bet, how much you won or lost, if you used free play, etc.

Do you worry about casinos tracking you?

Many players surveyed on Brian Christopher’s YouTube page didn’t seem to mind – just about 70 percent of you didn’t seem to care, and another 18 percent still accepted the trade-off between card and offers.

One thing you should be a bit less worried about, at least today, is data sharing of that level of granularity. Casinos tend to like to hold on to their player data to some degree as proprietary. But high level information (for instance, your daily casino budget) may get shared as part of their ability to extend certain sorts of offers to you.

For instance, when they do work with a partner, say a cruise line, to offer cruises to players who meet certain criteria, when you pick up that cruise certificate and redeem it for a cruise, the cruise company knows you meet their criteria, but will capture their own direct data when you then get on the ship and play in their casino.

Some casinos share aggregated data (anonymized and rolled up) to third parties to figure out what slots are hot right now, or how much a game gets played at various casinos. While they don’t know you’re hitting a button a certain amount of times, your data is folded into a larger data set for analysis.

But casinos capture all sorts of data, and with hundreds of cameras watching the casino floor, and some casinos leveraging tools like facial recognition nowadays, it’s not just the players card that is giving them access to information. If a casino is sold, so is that data, which can then be leveraged by the new owner however they choose.

The recent hacking of MGM Resorts and Caesars is also a reminder that other data is captured by casinos along the way too, including your drivers license information (many casinos nowadays scan the front and back of your ID and have it on file in their system) and your social security number, if you’ve been lucky enough to win a jackpot, since they need that to report your win to the IRS.

Casinos will have privacy policies like any other business that explain how information can be shared, but you can expect those policies to be written in favor of the casinos as well. Unfortunately, if you’re concerned about privacy details, a casino is far from the best place to spend your time, given how much data they collect.

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