You’d expect that the cameras would be used to make sure that people aren’t cheating. You’d expect that they’d be used to catch thieves should they try to escape a casino after a theft. But you wouldn’t expect them to be used to read your text messages.
That’s what happened at a Vancouver, Canada casino back in 2011. Vancouver police employed the Edgewater Casino’s security cameras to zoom in on a suspect’s smartphone. They were able to read his text messages and they later arrested him for a number of firearms charges (it’s illegal to own a handgun in Canada). He had been a suspect in a shooting of a local gangster.
While that’s kind of cool when you think about it from a catching-the-bad-guy perspective, the Supreme Court of British Columbia didn’t agree. A judge ruled that the police violated his Charter of Rights & Freedoms right to privacy.
The prosecution argued that what the police did was no different than looking over someone’s shoulder while they’re sending and receiving texts, but the judge didn’t buy that argument.
Part of the evidence against him will be thrown out, but the accused is still facing charges, so he doesn’t get off free and clear.
Criminals aside, this begs a very serious question. Police might be more conscious of using the security footage to view someone’s cell phone. After all, if they find evidence, they’ll have to present it to a judge and it could very well get thrown out of court.
But casino security doesn’t really have to worry about any of that. They have the cameras and can do what they want behind closed doors. Sure, there are laws. But who is going to enforce whether they’re reading something for their own personal enjoyment?
If you plan to use a cellphone in a casino, just remember there are cameras watching your every move. Even if you aren’t doing anything illegal (and you shouldn’t be) we still understand that it might be kind of unnerving to know there are guys in the security zone with the power to read your phone using a camera.
So put the phone away while you’re playing. Or text some weird stuff to mess with them. It’s your call.