Concerns raised over facial recognition legislation

28 September, 2020 by Andy Young

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has put forward draft legislation, which has raised the concerns of the state’s clubs and pubs over its potential impact and cost.

The Government’s proposals contains measures aimed at harm-minimisation around problem gambling, several of which were originally proposed by the industry. Both ClubsNSW and the Australian Hotels Association NSW have said they are committed to harm minimisation, but they said some of the measures put forward, including the installation of facial recognition technology, would cost the industry millions of dollars at a time when it can least afford it.

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Both associations raised concerns that the government’s intended implementation would create unnecessary red tape, place a significant compliance burden on venues and threaten thousands of jobs as well as community funding.

“18 years ago, AHA NSW and ClubsNSW began operating a self-exclusion program — two years before the introduction of compulsory self-exclusion,” AHA NSW CEO John Whelan said.

“In 2009, the industry recommended legislation be developed to allow family members to intervene to stop a loved one with a gambling problem. Unfortunately, this was rejected by government.

“COVID restrictions have meant pubs are now facing their most significant challenges in a hundred years — many are struggling to survive, many jobs have been lost.

“We continue to support good harm-minimisation policy, however, we have concerns with this bill. We don’t believe our patrons want to be monitored through facial recognition each and every time they catch up with mates at the pub,” he said.

ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis added: “Gaming revenue has fallen 14 per cent year-on-year as a result of the 10-week industry shutdown, while food and beverage takings are down 60 to 70 per cent.

“I don’t think anyone would agree that the middle of a pandemic is the right time to introduce onerous new compliance requirements.”

The associations said that while they were disappointed with the lack of effective consultation on the proposed legislation, they were looking forward to the opportunity to engage with the government in a constructive manner in order to reach a sensible outcome.