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Facial recognition tech has been exploited to increase gambling losses
Industry’s touted panacea for gambling harm, inferior to cashless gambling card

28 Feb 2023

Facial Recognition Technology (FRT), which the gambling industry is heralding as a key harm minimisation tool, has been used internationally to actually increase losses and boost time spent on poker machines.


The alarming finding is revealed in a policy paper on FRT released today by the Alliance for Gambling Reform.


The chief executive of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said the gambling industry has fiercely resisted the introduction of a mandatory cashless gambling card and instead argued harm minimisation can be achieved through FRT.


“This claim that facial recognition is a solution is hypocritical and misleading. The international evidence clearly shows that FRT can be used to increase customer losses and time spent using poker machines, a fact that will concern anyone seeking to reduce gambling harm,” she said.
“Industry trade papers also freely discuss the use of FRT for ‘enhancing customer experiences’ which is code for increased poker machine use and gambling losses.”


Ms Bennett said Australia was in the grip of a gambling epidemic with gambling losses per capital greater than anywhere else in the world.  Australians lose a staggering $25 billion through gambling every year and most of these losses came through poker machines.


“We cannot trust the industry; we cannot heed their recommendations on harm minimisation – it is like letting the fox manage the hen house. Government must regulate to protect people from this addictive and ruthless business,” Ms Bennett said.


The Alliance for Gambling Reform is a strong advocate for a mandated identity-linked, cashless gambling card with mandatory and default limits. If this system was in place, there would be no need for FRT as each card is linked to one's identity and the exclusion register.

The policy paper recommends that:


·       Facial recognition technology be banned in all hotels, clubs and casinos with poker machines until detailed legislation regulating the use is formulated with the input of harm reduction experts and those with lived experience of gambling harm

·       Any new legislation must include measures that:

o   Forbid cameras being placed on individual poker machines

o   Ensure venues must be prohibited from collecting data on any individual

o   Cameras must only be used to identify those who have been excluded

The paper stresses that the need for FRT would be made redundant with the implementation of a mandatory cashless gambling card, similar to that being proposed by the Tasmanians and NSW Governments.  

Carol Bennett is available for interview
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704

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