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Problem gamblers in New South Wales will have additional help at pubs and clubs. According to recent reports, pubs and clubs across the state are implementing facial recognition technology. This move will help those on the self-exclusion list meet their commitments. However, some politicians believe the measure is too invasive and stops short of what they believe is a more practical solution.
News broke last week that the Australian Hotels Association NSW and ClubsNSW are working on facial recognition for live pokies. The release of the technology across the state will be sometime in 2023. The system will use cameras and facial recognition to look for people who are part of the self-exclusion system.
Players who are on self-exclusion may not play on pokie machines or even enter gambling facilities. In the past, many locations placed photos on the walls of players on the exclusion list. However, this was a bit cumbersome and subject to human error. As such, only a handful of locations bothered to properly enforce the exclusion list.
With the new technology, once a player self-excludes and opts into the facial recognition program, their data is available at all locations across the state. This ensures pubs have the tools necessary to help gamblers that are on the exclusion list.
According to ClubsNSW CEO John Landish, “Clubs have a demonstrated commitment to protecting their members and patrols from gambling harm, and this technology will take the world-leading Multi-Venue Self-Exclusion program to the next level.”
Australian Hotels Association NSW CEO John Whelan also agrees. He says that the system serves as a powerful tool to help gamblers.
Politicians and the pub system have been at odds for a while now on how to combat problem gambling. Lawmakers believe that pubs and clubs are not doing enough to address the problem. Some members of Parliament would block the new system if they could.
One such politician is Greens Party member Cate Faehrmann. She believes that pubs and clubs are trying to avoid a move to cashless gambling. A cashless gambling system would require that players use a player’s card to access online pokies. It would also impose strict limits on play at machines.
According to Faehrmann, “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.” The Greens Party thinks the government should control gambling at pubs and clubs. Also, the party believes that all locations should close from midnight to noon.
While the risks to players are somewhat limited, it is not zero. For starters, the system will require cameras on all poker machines, which means that all players will be under surveillance. Next, for those people on the self-exclusion list, it would mean that facial data and personal data would be in a database that could potentially be hacked.
Some lawmakers believe the new system breaches personal privacy and opens players up to identity theft in the event of a data breach. Granted, if players were using cashless gambling cards, a data breach would be far more reaching as all player information would be accessible in such a breach.
The technology’s official launch date has not been revealed, but it is expected to happen at some point in 2023. Again, this program is optional and only impacts players on the self-exclusion list.