New South Wales Gaming Facility Facial Recognition Expanding

Posted on: October 19, 2022, 06:37h. 

Last updated on: October 19, 2022, 02:21h.

The use of facial recognition technology is more controversial and polarizing than the Green New Deal. Still, it continues to expand, especially in Australia, where New South Wales (NSW) gaming facilities are the latest to embrace the technology.

City Tattersalls Club in NSW
The City Tattersalls Club in New South Wales is one of many venues that’s a member of ClubsNSW. The group is going to expand the use of facial recognition across the state next year. (Image: The Senior)

ClubsNSW and Australian Hotels Association NSW, which are supported by Ladbrokes, IGT, and others, are collaborating to roll out more facial recognition solutions in licensed gaming venues. This builds on a pilot program NSW introduced earlier at six clubs in the state.

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the idea.

Wheels Already Turning

With the technology in place, gamblers will have to scan their faces before stepping foot on a gaming floor. In addition, facial recognition cameras will monitor the gaming areas. The images will be compared against a database to determine if an individual opted for a self-imposed gambling ban. If so, he or she won’t be able to gamble. The gaming venues will reportedly never have access to the data.

The program has proven to be successful and well-received, according to ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis. He said in a statement that 85% of respondents to a survey indicated their support for the program.

Similar programs are being introduced in other Australian states, including the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Queensland. In addition, Star Entertainment uses facial rec at its Sydney casino in NSW, according to the company.

Clubs have a demonstrated commitment to protecting their members and patrons from gambling harm and this technology will take the world-leading Multi-Venue Self-Exclusion program to the next level,” Landis said.

He added that there are almost 100 clubs that use facial recognition technology, and said it’s time to expand, based on the results. The CEO of Australian Hotels Association NSW, John Whelan, agrees, calling facial recognition a “powerful tool” that his group welcomes to the industry.

The wheels are in motion and the organizations are ready to move forward. Barring any government or regulatory intervention, facial recognition technology could arrive in all clubs and hotels in NSW next year.

Political Pushback

The rollout of facial recognition is facing opposition from some politicians. Cate Faehrmann, an NSW member of parliament, would stop it dead in its tracks if she could.

The Greens Party member believes facial recognition crosses the line on privacy. She said its implementation is just an example of the gaming industry trying to avoid cashless gaming, which would go further in reducing gambling harm. Cashless gaming is already beginning to arrive across NSW, Tasmania, and other states.

The NSW government has lost its mind if it thinks people want pubs and clubs to have self-managed facial recognition tech. This is as terrifying as it is absurd,” Fahermann said.

She would prefer that the government have control over gaming activity.

The Green Party also wants no one to be able to access gambling machines between midnight and noon. Given that around 1.8 million Australians work at night, according to Hiring Lab, this would cut them off from the leisure activity.