Reading Recommendation: What Stays in Vegas

One industry that uses personal data from customers is gaming. Through loyalty programs, casinos can glean information about people to customize advertising and services. Adam Tanner describes this practice in What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data–Lifeblood of Big Bussiness–and the End of Privacy as We Know It:

Boosted by vast banks of computers, Caesars today know the names of the vast majority of their clients, exactly how much they spend, where they like to spend it, how often they come, and many other characteristics. They even know exactly where many of their customers are at a given moment–whether they are sitting at a specific Wheel of Fortune slot machine or playing blackjack in the wee hours of the morning. They gather all these details with the consent of those who choose to participate in their loyalty program.

Loyalty programs supply your personal data to the companies with which you sign up for them. This book made me think twice about signing up for and using loyalty programs, despite their benefits, because they require giving up so much information about my habits. I had no idea!

In What Stays in Vegas, Tanner also brings up ethical issues, such as the justifications that commercial companies have for tracking people. He questions where the line between creepy and useful is. Tanner proposes that consumers should be able to see what data that private companies have and that privacy policies should be provided consistently and recognizably. Check out his appendix for actionable ways to control your personal data, such as using an email address that does not identify you by name for communications from commercial companies and signing up for the Do Not Call Registry.

What are ways that you limit your personal data sharing? Do you participate in loyalty programs?


Source: Tanner, Adam. What Stays in Vegas: The World of Personal Data–Lifeblood of Big Bussiness–and the End of Privacy as We Know It. New York: PublicAffairs, a Member of the Perseus Book Group, 2014.

Image: “A view of the card tables inside the casino” by Kym Koch Thompson, on Wikipedia. CC BY 2.0.