What to Expect of Facial Recognition at Pubs And Clubs

We all know that gambling reform has been a hot topic of discussion in across Australia. Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment Group have been at the forefront of the discussion due to money laundering and other criminal activity. However, now the discussion is focused a bit more on pubs and clubs, particularly in New South Wales. Recently, news broke that pubs and clubs across the state will begin to use facial recognition software to help enforce the self-exclusion list. While some see this as a positive step forward, some believe that it is an invasion of privacy. Today, we discuss what players can expect from the move to facial recognition at pubs.

Why the Move to Facial Recognition?

If you haven’t heard, pubs and clubs across NSW will soon start using an AI-based facial recognition program to help identify problem gamblers. Those that choose to be placed on the self-exclusion list can opt into this program.

Under the program, the person’s photo will be uploaded into a database and made available at all pubs and clubs using the system. All pokie machines at pubs and clubs will have cameras installed that will monitor players. The cameras will scan players and alert pub or club managers if a self-excluded player is in the building.

Presently, this system is only looking for people on the self-exclusion list. It is expected to ignore a large number of players at the casino. However, it is still a form of monitoring that some feel is an invasion of privacy and opens players to risks.

What Are the Risks of the System

Initially, the biggest risks of using a facial recognition system are to those on the self-exclusion database. The database will include the photo and personal information of gamblers on the self-exclusion list. This could potentially lead to identity theft should the database become hacked or if the database is leaked in any fashion.

For players that are not on the list, the main risk is surveillance. You will be watched while in the clubs and pubs. It is unclear at this time the extent of the surveillance. Will the sessions be taped to replay at a later date, and will the data used in the system be sold or used by third parties? This is unknown at this time.

What Steps Can Be Taken by Players?

If you are concerned about this new technology, you don’t have a lot of choice in the matter. If you’re considering a move to the self-exclusion list, you presently are not required to opt into the system. However, with the changes underway to gambling across the nation, we do expect that inclusion in facial recognition systems will be a requirement in the future.

For those that are not on the self-exclusion list, you do not have to do anything. Your personal data will not be tracked. However, if you prefer not to be monitored, you don’t have a choice. If you don’t want to be watched, you will have to refrain from going to clubs and pubs to gamble.

Are There Alternatives to Facial Recognition?

Some people believe that facial recognition falls short of helping to curb problem gambling. Rather, they recommend that pubs and clubs move towards a cashless gambling system similar to what is being implemented in live casinos.

However, clubs and pubs have largely been resistant to this move as it will require a complete overhaul of the network of pokies and locations. Some pubs and clubs feel that the cost vs. reward ratio is not enough to justify the expense.

In the end, pubs and clubs may not have a choice. As live casinos move toward a cashless gambling environment, pubs and clubs may have to follow suit. In the meantime, facial recognition is a first step toward helping problem gamblers at pubs and clubs.

Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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