Problem gamblers could soon “opt-in” to having their faces scanned by facial recognition software, in order to keep them out of some Canberra clubs.

The proposal from ClubsACT would see several venues trial a system, developed by New Zealand-based company COMS Systems Limited.

The technology alerts staff to patrons who have registered themselves for a database if they enter the poker machine or gambling area of a venue.

According to COMS Systems, the technology has already been rolled out in some pubs and clubs in South Australia, and about 170 venues in New Zealand.

ClubsACT Chief Executive Craig Shannon said the system differed from controversial facial recognition technology used by Kmart and Bunnings, which is currently the subject of a privacy watchdog investigation.

“The system is based around the idea that an individual who chooses to self-exclude from a club, who is already part of the self-exclusion regime, would be photographed if they went into a gambling area only,” Mr Shannon said.

“It’s really just to reinforce their own self-exclusion request.”

But Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said ClubsACT’s proposal still raised concerns about privacy and the consent of patrons.

Mr Rattenbury said while there was similar federal and territory legislation regarding data collection by private organisations, there were currently no ACT laws that prevented the use of biometric data.

Mr Shannon said the system would only be installed in gaming areas of venues, so people who had registered for the program could still use meal and bar areas.

‘Technology takes the human error out’

In South Australia, gaming venues authorised to operate 30 or more poker machines must have approved facial recognition technology installed to identify people who have been barred from gaming areas.

Australian National University Centre for Gambling Research director Aino Suomi said there was not a lot of published data about the use of facial recognition technology to prevent gambling issues in Australia. But she said there had been some promising results.

“We’ve heard from our South Australian colleagues that this automated identification of gamblers who have self-excluded or been venue-excluded has proven to be effective,” Dr Suomi said.

Mr Shannon said the system had been installed in several clubs already, but was inactive, and if ClubsACT was given the go-ahead by the government, they could begin the trial within a matter of weeks.


Read the full story here: ClubsACT proposes trial of self-exclusion facial recognition technology for problem gamblers – ABC News