Pubs and clubs across New South Wales will soon utilize facial recognition technology to identify excluded gamblers under a plan being hatched by the Australian Hotels Association NSW and ClubsNSW.
The state-of-the-art system, which will see everyone entering the gaming areas of licensed venues scanned, is currently being developed by the two organizations and will be rolled out from next year.
According to ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis, a recent survey of self-excluded gamblers found that 85% supported the use of facial recognition technology to improve identification.
“Close to 100 clubs are already using this technology and the feedback is that it works,” Landis said.
“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.”
The use of facial recognition technology is also widely supported by pub and club operators, with the issue having been raised at the Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE) in August.
Speaking at an AGE luncheon, Craig Laundy of Laundy Hotels said, “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.”
Pubs and clubs have also attracted the attention of the NSW gaming regulator, with an inquiry into alleged money laundering announced last December amid media reports that more than AU$1 billion is being laundered through Australia’s poker (slot) machines annually. Around 140 pubs and clubs were identified as venues of concern in Sydney alone.
Australian Hotels Association NSW CEO John Whelan said the expanded use of facial recognition technology from 2023 follows recent successful trials in six venues across the state.
“Technology now allows us to accurately identify self-excluded problem gamblers and then stop them from gambling,” he said. “This is a powerful tool and NSW hotels and clubs are committed to implementing it.”