In New Zealand, in an effort to identify problem gamblers, facial recognition technology that monitors patrons as they enter gaming facilities is being tested in some venues.
News outlet, voxy.co.nz, reports that about 15 gaming venues nationwide are trialing the facial recognition technology, “The Guardian,” that matches a person’s face against a voluntary photo database of individuals who are problem gamblers and have requested to be prohibited from certain venues. According to the report, when someone entering one of the venues is a match in the database, staff at the gaming facility is signaled to check the individual’s identification and if there is a match they are asked to leave.
The ground-breaking facial recognition technology is reportedly designed to be able to adapt to a change in a person’s appearance.
Requested by the gaming industry, the facial recognition technology was developed courtesy of a partnership between Kiwi companies, Torutek and COMS Systems, according to voxy.co.nz. Fifteen gaming venues are reportedly currently using the technology and another six venues are set to install the system in a couple of weeks.
Paul Andrew, COMS Systems director said, “While New Zealand has one of the lowest problem gambling rates in the world we still need to explore better ways to help people who identify or are identified as problem gamblers,” according to the news outlet.
Andrew’s company provides management systems for approximately 50% of the estimated 1,200 gaming venues in New Zealand and has been working on The Guardian for four years.
Andrew said, “Guardian is a pro-active industry-wide initiative. It’s not something that has been imposed, but an additional measure on top of the industry’s already stringent harm minimisation measures,” according to voxy.co.nz.
Radio New Zealand reports that the technology costs between $20,000 and $30,000, about what you’d pay for a new gaming machine.
Torutek’s Chris Yu said that they are excited about “New Zealand technology helping New Zealanders” and that they believe that this is the first time facial recognition technology has been utilized in this manner. “The system is designed to meet the requirements of the Gambling Act,” said Mr Yu. “COMS Systems were already providing hardware solutions for the gaming industry, and we worked together to find an effective solution to identify excluded problem gamblers,” he added.
Paula Snowden, Chief Executive Officer for the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, reportedly said that the facial recognition technology was a good thing. “It means that we can have a system that doesn’t rely on photographs or pictures being placed on pin boards behind serving areas so people know who’s supposed to be in, or not in,” according to Radio New Zealand.
Snowden added that the technology would allow the gaming venue to take action quietly and respectfully.