One such integration that seems to be gaining popularity across the country is the use of Facial Recognition (FR) technology to help ensure that individuals are gaming responsibly in licensed pubs and clubs. Statistics suggest that between 0.5 and 1 percent of gamblers in Australia can be classified as ‘high-risk’ and may encounter significant problems due to their habits. Further to this, Australia has the highest per-capita gambling rate of any country in the world.[i]
Australia is a society that loves sport, and in turn, a large proportion of the population also like to gamble on the outcomes of sports. This also extends to the playing of ‘poker machines’, a form of gambling that is considered safe and perfectly legal, and very often makes a big impact on keeping licensed premises financially viable. As discussed though, a small percentage of people do take their love of gaming too far and find themselves in personal and financial difficulty. According to the Mayo Clinic[ii], compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction.
Licensed pubs and clubs are duty-bound to abide by this responsible gaming policy and deny entry to individuals who may break their resolve and enter a part of the premises with access to gambling machines or where they can place bets.
An individual’s self-exclusion can be active for as long as five years. While it is a strong and positive policy to help curb issues emanating from gaming in Australia, it also places a certain level of strain on licensed pubs and clubs. In order to adhere to the rules, it means that a venue must recognise individuals on their self-exclusion list for as long as five years, and make sure they don’t enter parts of the building. This means that staff on the front desk need to recognise them on sight, which is often difficult if someone doesn’t want to be recognised, and the passage of time combined with staff turnover complicates matters further.
The use of FR technology in this manner provides staff with a functional, automated means of helping individuals self-regulate, and avoid situations that may impact their resolve. This is a responsible and very positive use of the available technology, as it allows people to place restrictions on their own damaging behaviours and puts structures in place that gently but firmly ensures that they maintain their resolve.
Rather than requiring staff members to learn complex systems, the VMS can be set to provide an alert if a self-excluded patron enters a restricted area. This negates the need for someone to be constantly watching security monitors, freeing up staff to focus on customer service.
The software can also be useful for alerting staff if a blacklisted individual tries to enter the establishment. This can have a major impact on curbing antisocial behaviour, allowing staff to quickly detect individuals and discreetly stop them from entering the premises without causing a disturbance. FR technology is, in many cases, powerful enough to detect when somebody is trying to circumvent the system. For example, FR reads facial features that cannot be masked by adding sunglasses, or fake facial hair. Therefore, it is very difficult to commit photo fraud, or trick the technology into mistaking an individual’s identity.
While debate still rages in Australian parliament regarding the introduction of the Identity-matching Services Bill and the Passports Amendment Bill, concerns for these are largely based on Australian governments having the power to not only store, but also to cross-reference data on individuals. Using the data for purposes of furthering social good, especially considering that this relates to a program whereby individuals elect to exclude themselves from damaging situations, moves this particular use of technology into the bracket of responsible use of technology.
Facial Recognition is one of the most advanced technologies associated with managing a secure ecosystem, and one that can be a powerful force for positive change in many sectors but this must be wielded responsibly, and with clear regulations on how the data is stored and used.
[iii] https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/making-a-change/self-exclusion (link no longer valid)
This article was originally published on Security Solutions Media.