Representatives of the New South Wales pubs and clubs industry have called for greater use of facial recognition technology to form a central part of a broader harm minimization platform they say should be rolled out industry wide.
Speaking at a Networking Lunch at the Australasian Gaming Expo on Wednesday, Bankstown Sports Club CEO Mark Condi and Craig Laundy of Laundy Hotels described facial recognition technology as the most efficient and reliable means of ensuring the industry remains sustainable while fulfilling its “social license”.
“People are always going to have a go at us on problem drinking and problem gambling but the fact is no venue in the state wants either,” Laundy told a crowd of around 200 guests.
“The big thing on the problem gambling side is facial recognition. I think we need, at least in NSW, a consistent harm minimization platform that is rolled out across the casino, the TAB and pubs and clubs, with facial recognition being so good now and unobtrusive. You can do it just for the problem gambling issue and working with families.”
Laundy also questioned the purpose of the NSW Responsible Gaming Levy, established under the Casino Control Act 1992, which requires casino licensees to contribute 2% of gaming revenue annually. Some clubs and pubs also pay a machine lease levy under the Gaming Machines Act 2001.
“What is the Responsible Gaming Levy for?” he asked. “The government should be paying [for facial recognition technology].”
Condi agreed that facial recognition was essential as it would allow a large degree of self-regulation within the industry.
“Facial recognition is a must,” Condi said. “We’ve had that for some time now [at Bankstown Sports Club] and three weeks ago I read a report where someone was identified who had self-excluded and had [briefly] got into our premises. What picked them up was facial recognition – and they had a mask and hat on. It picked them up from their eyes and within 30 seconds of gaining access we picked them up and asked them to leave before they reached the gaming floor. So facial recognition has a very important role to play.”
Condi noted that some smaller clubs have traditionally baulked at the AU$6,000 or $7,000 asking price to install such technology but joined Laundy in exploring different funding models to improve the responsible gambling space state-wide.
“For me, $6k or $7k is a license to be compliant and a license for opening your doors,” he said. “But there are clever ways of coming up with funding models so that everyone can get access to it.”