ClubsNSW and AHA NSW have announced a joint initiative to introduce facial recognition technology in all hotel and club gaming rooms, to further combat the onus of problem gambling.
Facial recognition is set to become a major part of the expanded Multi-Venue Self-Exclusion (MVSE) scheme, which prevents self-excluded problem gamblers from entering gaming areas.
When a person enters a gaming room their face will be scanned and compared with all faces in the self-exclusion system, and an alert will be sent to the venue immediately if there is a match, allowing staff to intervene.
There have already been trials in six hotels, and dozens of clubs are already operating the system effectively.
The Associations report they are advanced in the development of a state-of-the-art system whereby self-excluded people will be detected and prevented from gambling in any pub or club throughout NSW.
Now established, it will be rolled out during 2023, beginning with the largest venues constituting the greatest risk, before it is deployed across the state.
The central database will be encrypted, and housed within the MVSE system, along with all the current appropriate self-exclusion information. MVSE will only operate in the gaming room, and venues will display clear signage to alert patrons that facial recognition technology is in use.
Importantly, data can only be accessed via a secure link, and only the necessary information is presented to a venue that has a self-excluding patron enter. Assistance may be provided by counselling services, which will also be alerted.
This roll-out follows a recent survey reporting 85 per cent of self-excluded problem gamblers support facial recognition to identify self-excluded people, and data suggesting one per cent of adults in NSW identifies as a problem gambler.
ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis says the technology has proven to be effective in helping proactive self-excluded patrons “maintain their resolve” with some extra support.
“Close to 100 clubs are already using this technology and the feedback is that it works.”
The recent trials in NSW takes a lead from the success of a similar scheme in place in 300 venues in South Australia, but once implemented, a key feature of the new system will be that it is state-wide for the first time.
“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.
“Those that have been proactive in choosing to self-exclude from the gaming rooms of clubs and pubs will now have extra support from our industry to make sure they maintain their resolve and stay out of harm’s way. That’s something we can be very proud of,” Mr Landis said.