The United States Tennis Association has started using facial recognition technology to clamp down on illicit betting, and it’s willing to work with other sports organizations and even law enforcement bodies to extend the practice.
According to a new ESPN report from Ryan Rodenberg, the USTA signaled that it would start implementing this technology earlier this year, ahead of September’s U.S. Open tournament. The aim was to detect “courtsiders” — individuals who attend matches and transmit information to bettors and data brokers as a given match unfolds. The USTA has its own licensing rights for match data it provides to the betting industry, and in order to protect those commercial interests, it’s seeking to evict the courtsiders who are undercutting it.
It used to be that known courtsiders could sometimes escape detection by wearing disguises or significantly altering their appearances, with one individuals telling Rodenberg that he once shaved his head for such an effort. As he acknowledges now, that wouldn’t be able to thwart a facial recognition system.
It’s another example of the growing prominence of biometric technology in the world of sports and in everyday life more broadly. Various sports venues around the world have lately begun to use facial recognition to keep known hooligans out of matches, for example; and some are starting to implement the technology simply for admission. It may be that the sports entertainment world is heading toward a future in which everyone who enters a given stadium is identified through facial recognition, ensuring not only that courtsiders are kept out of tennis matches, but that no one is able to sneak in, and that known criminals or other persons of interest are flagged for the proper authorities.
For its part, the USTA says it is “open-minded about investigating economies of scale with other professional sports and law enforcement agencies related to enhanced enforcement of integrity strictures,” according to the ESPN report.
October 9, 2018 – by Alex Perala