By Logan Dubel
OceanCity.com Exclusive: How one local innovator is changing the game across Delmarva’s service industry through new technology and heightened alcohol security, protecting both businesses and visitors.
Bars and restaurants everywhere keep a close watch on who comes in and out of their establishments to protect both staff and patrons. However, in a town like Ocean City, which booms with hundreds of thousands of visitors each summer week, security surrounding alcohol is even more important. As young people, including minors, flock to the shore seeking fun, service industry leaders and their crews work diligently to ensure safety. Now, new technology and a growing local initiative are helping to crack down on one of Ocean City’s greatest enemies – fake identification.
Fake ID use is increasingly common among young people who come down the ocean in droves. Each year, an estimated 10,000 or more invalid IDs roll through Ocean City’s bars, with up to 12 different types of IDs presented to doormen in one night alone, making their jobs challenging. While little national data is available, a 2021 survey of students at the Ohio State University found that a whopping 69% claim to have obtained or used a fake ID. High school seniors and college students tend to be one of Ocean City’s largest visitor demographics, especially in early June.
Eric Chaplin, a service industry veteran who began his career at Fishtales and has called Delmarva home for over two decades, has created a revolutionary security program for establishments in the resort to curb this problem.
Card 101® offers a state-registered, three-part awareness course, helping bartenders and bouncers identify intoxicated customers, recognize fake identification, and employ conflict resolution techniques during tense situations. The top-rated state courses continue to educate bar staff across the shore.
However, what’s more eye-opening, is the brand-new BiSU ID Scanner, an app designed by Chaplin and his team, programmed to act as Delmarva’s “Big Brother,” and protect businesses.
“We developed a program designed for the unique atmosphere with identification we have here in the resort town,” said Eric Chaplin, author of the Card 101® program. “We get a lot of minors, who want to come and overenjoy, and they obtain IDs from all over, even overseas. Our people need extra training to ensure that we’re keeping liquor licenses, establishments, and our community safe.”
How does it work? As each patron enters, doormen scan the ID through the system, identifying whether the ID is valid, expired, underage, or fake. Still, the protection for businesses goes beyond just the initial scan. If an ID becomes marked as flagged in the system, staff can add additional notes regarding its legitimacy, or if the ID holder engages in poor behavior including fighting, unwanted touching, refusal to pay a tab, and more.
The BiSU private network is vast, and all information surrounding flagged IDs is available to other establishments in the resort. Thus, if a fake or flagged ID goes through a BiSU scanner at another restaurant, the doormen will have the necessary information to refuse entry to flagged individuals.
Although possessing or using invalid identification in Maryland is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, Chaplin notes that some training now instructs bouncers to allow people to retain flagged or fake IDs to reduce additional conflict. Plus, as the local BiSU network rapidly expands, the ID will likely not pass security measures at another establishment.
“The BiSU ID scanner certainly does not replace doormen, but instead acts as a tool to assist them in making educated decisions about who they are allowing into their business,” Chaplin added. “We provide one extra tool to keep our local businesses safe.”
Numerous restaurants around Ocean City have adopted the app, including Shenanigan’s, the Purple Moose Saloon, Pickles Pub, Hammerheads, Pit & Pub, and Mother’s Cantina. The app adds a layer of protection for these businesses, especially when faced with compliance checks that could place their liquor licenses in jeopardy. Plus, some insurance companies may even offer discounts for the bars taking this extra security measure.
“We need this app, without a doubt. There are so many fake IDs out there, and we simply don’t know what’s what with just a glance,” said Steve Hoffman, an owner at the 28th Street Pit & Pub. “The program automatically lets us know whether the ID is legitimate, and since we started using it about a month ago, it has helped to maintain the safety of our customers and staff.”
Just a few weeks ago, the Beer on the Beach event at the Jellyfish Festival used the scanner to process more than 500 IDs.
In the coming months, Chaplin hopes that more businesses adopt the BiSU ID Scanner, protecting not only themselves, but the entire resort community.