The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Caution urged regarding the use of facial recognition technology

8 July 2013

The Department of Internal Affairs is urging caution regarding the use of facial recognition technology in pubs and clubs.

A system being suggested by the company ‘Positive Outlook’ in which facial recognition technology could be used to monitor excluded problem gamblers from playing gaming machines is presently being trialled in a Hamilton pub.

It has been hailed by ‘Positive Outlook’ as the way of the future.

"While the purpose is similar, this is significantly different technology to the facial recognition technology that SkyCity is reported to be ready to trial at its Auckland casino,” says Maarten Quivooy, General Manager, Regulatory Services at the Department of Internal Affairs.

“We welcome any new technology which has the potential to reduce the harm of problem gambling. However there are significant issues that need to be worked through, regarding the security of the Positive Outlook system - including concerns about who manages and has access to the database. The data base will in effect be storing people's images which raises privacy issues.”

Mr Quivooy adds: “There are also questions about the speed and level of accuracy of the camera technology involved. The introduction of any new technology in the gambling sector also has significant cost implications and would come at a cost to the funding available to communities through grants. The Department of Internal Affairs wants to strike the right balance between implementing effective harm prevention measures, and maximising funding available to communities.

"We need to know that the technology will be effective and robust, that it will result in reducing the harm of problem gambling, and that this benefit will off-set what may be a considerable reduction in community funding."

The Positive Outlook proposal involves technology that rests with each gaming machine and potentially locks it down when an excluded gambler approaches.

The system envisaged for casinos is one that would scan faces in a crowd and match that information with the database of excluded gamblers. It would utilise the casino’s current CCTV network but would not interact with gaming machines.

The Department of Internal Affairs is working with Positive Outlook about the implications of introducing facial recognition technology into pubs and clubs and has written to organisations which might be interested in using it to outline its concerns.


Media contact:
Sue Ingram Communications, Account Manager,
Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
Direct Dial: +64 4 494 0584 | Mobile: +64 27 541 4696 I