Amid plans for reform in gambling activities, the competing parties in NSW, Labor and Liberal, both showed support for the use of facial recognition technology (FRT). Although the elections are upcoming, it remains unclear which developer of FRT will be proposed by each of the parties, a recently released report by iTnews reveals.
FRT may be new for NSW, but it isn’t uncommon for the gambling sector. In fact, The Star Entertainment Group, as well as ClubsNSW have both implemented the technology in an effort to restrict self-excluded individuals from gambling. As with any technology that is continuously growing, there were issues, but the overall outcome was positive.
A report released last year revealed that prior to introducing FRT, The Star was able to detect approximately 14 excluded individuals monthly. That number significantly increased with the implementation of FRT to 167 identified individuals a month. On the other hand, ClubsNSW has also leveraged the technology to identify self-excluded visitors. Still, neither The Star nor ClubsNSW confirmed which vendor they use for their FRT operations.
Does FRT Bring Only Benefits?
To implement FRT technology as a mandatory requirement for gambling operators, NSW lawmakers need to push forward legislative changes. Chris Minns, the leader of NSW Labor, previously opposed proposals for cashless gaming cards, a change that is aimed at reducing gambling harm and crimes such as money laundering. However, amid the ongoing debate and support by different parties for the cashless gaming card, last month, Minns confirmed plans to back up a cashless card trial, if his party wins the election.
While in general, FRT is expected to be used for preventing self-excluded individuals from gambling and reducing money laundering, media reports have flagged concerns about gambling operators targeting high-roller customers. According to Yasmin Catley, Labor MP shadow minister for digital, those concerns are unfounded. She explained that the regulatory changes will “put in place restrictions that will ensure the technology cannot be used to induce gaming.”
Additionally, Catley pointed out that the approval of FRT systems and vendors will likely be included in the proposed legislative changes. She outlined that there will likely be consultations between the regulator and involved stakeholders as well. Finally, Catley said that the Labor proposal may mandate FRT systems for “all venues that operate gaming machines.”
Keeping in mind that the elections are yet to come, there’s still plenty of time before NSW implements changes within its gambling regulation. Still, the debate has already started which marks an important step in the process.