Problem gamblers will have their faces scanned using facial recognition technology to help them stay away from gaming venues in New South Wales.
Cameras will be rolled out in pubs and clubs across the state from 2023 to help identify gamblers who have opted in to the state’s Multi-Venue Self-Exclusion scheme.
The scheme already uses digital images to identify problem gamblers and ban them from entering gaming venues.
Gamblers who have joined the self-exclusion scheme have supplied their own image – and have given their full consent to the image being stored.
Director of liquor and policing for Australian Hotels Association [AHA] NSW, John Green, said the addition of facial recognition technology would improve identification.
“People can change over time and using facial recognition technology just makes sure we’ve got the best chance of identifying those people as they enter,” he said.
“We’ve tested how it operates and quite frankly it can identify people wearing masks, wearing glasses and trying to avoid detection.”
Cameras will scan patrons’ faces as they enter a venue and compare their faces to a database of problem gamblers who have consented to be part of the self-exclusion scheme.
If a problem gambler is identified, an alert is sent to venue staff who can then intervene and refer the person to support services.
ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis said the technology would only identify problem gamblers and would not impact other patrons.
“This is designed in a targeted way to help those who have a problem — not to impact anybody else,” he said.
“We believe it’s critical to support those people that have a problem in a targeted way where ordinary people are not affected.
“They can enjoy their pub or club the way that they ordinarily would — but the people who have a problem are genuinely looked after to ensure they get the help that they need.”
The technology is a joint venture between ClubsNSW and the AHA and will eventually be rolled out across the state.
It is already being used in around 100 venues across NSW and follows a similar scheme in South Australia where it is used in 300 venues.
Mr Green said a survey of self-excluded gamblers found 85% supported the use of facial recognition.
“It really is effective at identifying those people who want to be excluded and want our help,” he said.
“This is about improving the process that we’ve already got in place, but using the latest technology, to ensure that we are doing as much as we can to get them the treatment they need.”
NSW Gaming Minister Kevin Anderson said the initiative would help people stay in control of their gambling addiction.