Friday, March 21, 2014

As Casinos Ban Google Glass, Could Other Restrictions Follow?

Poker players have alternatives, but casino bans raise questions on Google Glass use

By now, most people with an enthusiasm for the mobile tech market are at least somewhat familiar with Google Glass. Essentially, it's Google's hands-free, glasses-style computer device that allows users to access the Internet and communicate via a tiny screen in front of the eye. Despite the fact that it has not yet had a wide release, Google Glass is already one of the most popular tech topics for 2014 because of the range of possibilities the device brings up. Everything from rumors of a stylish partnership with Ray Ban, to JetBlue's suggestion that Google Glass could be used to remind travelers when their flights are boarding has people excited about possible applications. But what about the possible downside?

When it comes to discussing the cons of Google Glass, most of the arguments are vague and theoretical, revolving around issues of technology dependence rather than specific applications that could in any way be harmful. However, one very interesting concern was brought to light in a 2013 article at the gambling news site Calvin Ayre. It revealed rather enormous implications for the casino gaming market.

Ultimately, the concern is simple: what if poker players and gamblers started to use Google Glass to cheat? It wouldn't need to be any sort of advanced scheme. As the article at Calvin Ayre states, a player would only need to broadcast his or her hand (or the cards on the table) to an outside source, and could then receive tips, odds, etc. on how to proceed with the game. Not only would this be relatively easy for those inclined to try it, but it would be nearly impossible for any sort of casino management or security authority to detect (or prove) foul play.

For this reason, New Jersey moved to ban Google Glass in casino properties in the summer of 2013—when the product was far from being widely released. This saw New Jersey following the paths of casinos in Las Vegas, Connecticut, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all of which had already moved to ban Google Glass. In New Jersey, however, the implications are particularly intriguing because of the rapidly growing online poker market.

In 2013, New Jersey legalized online gambling statewide, and the industry has already begun to achieve enormous success. The demand for online gaming in a state already famous for its Atlantic City casinos was significant, and already online poker giant Partypoker has established itself as a major player in the state, offering online rooms and tournaments. Beyond that, they even partnered with the New Jersey Devils professional hockey team for arena sponsorship and promotions. Online poker is here to stay in New Jersey, and this may ultimately offer a very attractive alternative to those who end up using Google Glass regularly.

Mind you, we're still very early in this process. Google Glass is still seen by some to be little more than a technological gimmick, and many find it difficult to imagine the product sweeping the nation in the same way that popular smartphones have done in recent years. Yet there may well come a day when Google Glass is commonplace, and those who depend on it, or use it regularly, may find themselves unwelcome in certain environments.

Casinos are some of the biggest and most sensible examples, and as mentioned there will be alternatives for gamblers. In New Jersey, a Google Glass enthusiast who's unable to wear his mobile tech in his favorite casino can now take advantage of online poker rooms without such a restriction. But what if restrictions on Google Glass go further? Really, it's quite easy to imagine the devices being similarly banned in environments like classrooms or workplaces.

Ultimately, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about Google Glass. But the casino/poker issue also raises a serious concern about just where these tools will be allowed, and what habitual wearers will have to do to get around restrictions.

Written by: Phillip Slaugh

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