Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is there privacy issues with Positive Outlook's system?
No. The system is an opt-in system. The only data held by the system are the images held of persons who have elected to formally enrol in the system. The enrolment process includes a consent to the person's image being retained in the system. No other data is retained in the system. The facial recognition cameras scan players' faces, but delete this data within five seconds if a match is not made. The standard CCTV cameras in a gaming room are far more intrusive and record and retain considerably more information than any part of the Positive Outlook system.
What does the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs think of Positive Outlook's system?
The Department of Internal Affairs cannot endorse any third-party system. The Department has however confirmed in writing that it is interested in all efforts to minimise and prevent gambling related harm and is willing to provide assistance to Positive Outlook to help ensure that the system is aligned with the requirements of the Gambling Act 2003.
What does the New Zealand Problem Gambling Foundation think of Positive Outlook's system?
The Problem Gambling Foundation have advised that the prototype system that has been demonstrated to them "shows potential, particularly to ease the administration of multi-venue exclusion…" The Problem Gambling Foundation have confirmed that the initial examination of the product is "positive" and that they are committed to working with Positive Outlook to support testing and trialling of the system as an independent party.
What do the larger New Zealand gaming societies think of Positive Outlook's system?
New Zealand Community Trust is very supportive of new technology that can assist to reduce and treat problem gambling. New Zealand Community Trust believes Positive Outlook’s system has the potential to make a real difference. New Zealand Community Trust attends monthly stakeholder meetings and has provided the first live venue for the system.
Pub Charity is also fully supportive of Positive Outlook's system. By letter dated 11 February 2013, Martin Cheer, the Chief Executive of Pub Charity stated:
It is recognised and agreed by gaming machine operators and problem gambling treatment providers that exclusion notices are an effective tool in the intervention and treatment of persons experiencing difficulty with gambling.
I have seen first-hand the system [Positive Outlook] has developed to prototype stage and I am convinced that this technology offers a solution to one weakness in the current venue exclusion system, which is the human limitation on a gambling venue's ability to identify excluded persons in order to intervene.
In fact the future success of the multi-venue exclusion system that has been developed between problem gambling providers and the gaming industry relies on overcoming this weakness.
In my 8 years in the gaming industry I have never seen a more effective intervention tool.
How does the system deal with prescription glasses and disguises?
Positive Outlook's system still works accurately if a person is wearing a hat, wig or prescription glasses. The system will disable a machine if a person attempts to avoid detection by wearing dark sunglasses.
How does the system deal with twins?
The system takes very exact measurements of the distance between various features on the human face. It is rare for identical twins to have the exact same measurements. The system will, in most cases, be able to correctly distinguish between twins. The exclusion enrolment process will however, include a question asking whether the person who wishes to benefit from the system is a twin. If the person advises that they are a twin, details of the other twin is recorded. If the system incorrectly disables the machine when the non-excluded twin is playing, the venue staff are advised that the player is a twin. The non-excluded twin can then provide identification to confirm that they are not the excluded person. The venue staff can then temporarily disable the system to enable the non-excluded twin to play. A similar issue with twins exists under the current paper based system.
How many exclusion orders are in existence in New Zealand?
It is estimated that approximately 11,500 exclusion orders are currently in place in New Zealand (this includes multi-venue exclusions). The number of exclusion orders will increase as the Department of Internal Affairs proceeds to implement a paper based multi-venue exclusion system in more towns and cities.
How many people are currently breaching their exclusion orders?
The 2010 Auckland University of Technology's Gambling and Addictions Research Centre report titled Formative Investigation into the Effectiveness of Gambling Venue Exclusion Processes in New Zealand found that 30% of people breach their exclusion order (most on multiple occasions).
The AUT study is consistent with other studies such as the 2008 study by Dickson-Gillespie, Rugle, Rosenthal, & Fong that found 36% of self-excluders admitted to having returned to the casino during the exclusion period.
How many excluded people are being detected under the current system?
A Nova Scotia report found that after a period of three months, only 13% of excluded persons were identified by venue staff.
How will people know an exclusion system is in place?
The Positive Outlook system is installed in the player tracking panel of the gaming machine. Almost all player tracking panels are located at eye height. The camera is visible in the panel and the panel includes graphics advising that the facial recognition based player exclusion system is installed in the machine. The system includes "enabled" and "disabled" LED lights on the player tracking panel. Information about the facial recognition technology is also displayed on A1 size signs in the gaming area. The signage advises people who are concerned about their gambling how quick and easy it is to enrol in the system and how they can exclude themselves from gambling for a period of time. The physical existence of the system in each gaming machine, coupled with the venue signage, increases the awareness of the exclusion process. Third party radio and television advertising will also assist to raise awareness of the facial recognition based player exclusion system.
What is the most appropriate period of time for a person to exclude?
An exclusion term of two years or more is considered necessary to reduce the risk of relapse.
What support will Positive Outlook's system provide at the end of an exclusion term?
The Positive Outlook database forwards an email to the excluded person's treatment provider one month prior to the end of the exclusion period. The treatment provider is prompted to make contact with the excluded person, enquire as to progress, and advise of the option of continuing with an exclusion. If the person elects to continue to exclude and the person's image is less than two years old, the person can be automatically re-enrolled for a two year period at the touch of a button without the excluded person repeating the formal re-enrolment process. If the excluded person's image is more than two years old, the excluded person is encouraged to visit the treatment provider and have their image captured again to ensure accuracy. The retaking of an image takes less than five minutes to complete.
Will Positive Outlook's system improve treatment provider links?
Yes. The Positive Outlook system accepts that some people will want to self-help without professional support, but strongly promotes professional support by facilitating contacts and links with appropriate treatment providers.
When a person enrols in Positive Outlook's database they are given a number of options to complete. The enrolment process requires the individual to accept the following terms and gives them a number of options as follows:
I consent to my image being stored in the national database of excluded persons and my game play being automatically disabled by the facial recognition detection system.
As indicated in the above enrolment process, it is compulsory for all excluded persons to receive an information pack in the mail and to be contacted by a professional treatment provider one month prior to the expiry of the exclusion term. It is however optional for the excluded person to be contacted directly by a treatment provider within the first 14 days of enrolment.
I acknowledge that my consent to exclusion is irrevocable and the term of exclusion that I elect cannot be rescinded.
I acknowledge and consent to an information pack being forwarded to me by post (addressed to me and marked private and confidential) that includes confirmation of the exclusion period and details of the problem gambling support services that are available in my area.
Please have a problem gambling treatment provider contact me on a free and confidential basis within the next 14 days. My preferred method of initial contact is:
Telephone call: ________________________________ (phone number)
Text: ________________________________ (phone number)
Email: ________________________________ (email address)
Post: ________________________________ (postal address)
If you do not wish to have a problem gambling treatment provider contact you, please delete the above option.
I acknowledge that a problem gambling treatment provider will contact me on a free and confidential basis one month prior to the end of my exclusion period to discuss my progress during the exclusion process and to advise me on how I can continue my exclusion period if I so elect.
The information pack that is sent out immediately after enrolment includes:
- A detailed description of the self-exclusion programme;
- Contact information for problem gambling helplines;
- Contact information for local problem gambling treatment providers; and
- Contact information for additional support, such as financial counselling.
What are the main barriers to seeking problem gambling help?
In 2008, the Auckland University of Technology's Gambling Research Centre prepared a report titled Problem Gambling – Barriers to Help Seeking Behaviours. The report observed the following barriers in seeking problem gambling help:
- Wanting to resolve the problem alone or being too proud to seek help. 84% of the general population sampled wanted to be able to resolve the issue directly themselves;
- Stigma and shame. 84% of the general population sampled cited feeling ashamed as a key barrier;
- Concerns about disclosure and confidentially. These were stated to be particularly important barriers in ‘small world' communities, especially for close knit communities such as Maori and Pacific Island communities and communities with a high concentration of Asian migrants. 63% of the general population sampled expressed concerns about their confidentiality; and
- Concerns about the effectiveness of treatment and the lack of confidence in helpers was a barrier. 59% of the general population sampled cited having had a bad prior experience when seeking help for gambling problems in the past.
How does Positive Outlook's system help those people who want to help themselves without seeing a "shrink"?
The Positive Outlook system is a very effective tool for those who want to address their gambling issue by themselves. The Positive Outlook system is not reliant on a person seeking professional help. The Positive Outlook venue signage clearly states how people can enrol in the system and includes a non-treatment provider option. The signage emphasises how quick and easy the enrolment process is. The non-treatment provider option for enrolment will vary depending on the excluded person's location, but typically includes a local budgeting service or Citizens Advice Bureau.
Will the role of the venue staff change? Will the amount paid to venue staff for supervising the gambling area decrease?
No. There will be no change in regard to the venue staff's harm minimisation and prevention obligations in general and the requirements directed towards non-excluded gamblers in particular. Venue staff will still be required to sweep the gambling area every 15 minutes to undertake a manual check for excluded persons and to check for underage gamblers. Positive Outlook's system is a tool to help with identification and enforcement of exclusion orders, but is not a full replacement of the current manual system.
The Gambling Act 2003 makes it an offence for excluded persons to enter into the gambling area, not just an offence for them to play a gaming machine. How does Positive Outlook's system stop people going into the gaming room?
There is likely to be very few excluded persons who would enter a gaming room and then not proceed to promptly sit in front of a gaming machine. However, Positive Outlook's system does also include an additional camera that monitors the door of the gaming room. If this camera identifies an excluded person, the system sends an alert to the venue staff. This will assist the venue staff to comply with the requirement that an excluded person must not enter the gambling area.
It is a requirement that before the Positive Outlook's system is installed at a venue that the venue applies to the Department of Internal Affairs to have their gambling area defined to be the gaming lounge. This means that an excluded person may enter a venue, but may not enter the gaming lounge. This reduces the number of door cameras that are required to simply one camera at the entrance of the gaming lounge.
Why don't you simply have one camera in the entrance to the gaming room, rather than a camera in each machine?
Detection via a door camera is not as reliable and accurate as the detection from the cameras located in the gaming machines. An excluded person will be able to avoid detection from a door camera by covering their face or lowering their head as they pass the door camera. The door camera also has only a fraction of a second to obtain an image and try and match this person. The process is complicated by the fact that the image will be an image of the person moving and there may be multiple persons in the camera's view. Therefore, despite Positive Outlook's system including a door camera, it is still necessary to have cameras in the player tracking panel of each machine. These cameras have a much higher detection rate due to their close proximity to the player, the fact that the player is relatively still, the controlled lighting environment and the need to only analyse one face (the face located closest to the camera).
Has there been any call by researchers for the use of facial recognition technology?
Yes. Numerous studies call for an investment in technology that will improve the enforcement of exclusion orders. Many of the studies make direct reference to facial recognition technology.
The 2002 Nowatzki and Williams paper recommended that computerised identification checks be explored.
The 2003 O'Neil paper stated that it is appropriate for the gambling industry to invest considerable resources into reliable self-exclusion enforcement initiatives.
The 2004 Schrans paper argued that self-exclusion programmes can only effectively be enforced if formal registration/identification systems are introduced at the point of entry to a gambling establishment or if exclusion processes are activated on each electronic gaming machine. The paper stated at pages xvii and xix:
It is virtually impossible for retailers to consistently identify even a limited number of players in the context of a busy social setting… Undoubtedly, the most effective way of improving identification rates within all player segments is to implement a method of on-site screening that is independent from subjective detection of "excluded" players through staff recognition…
Of far greater potential is the introduction of a systematic screening process that is consistent over time, over the various sites and is independent of staff's limited ability to recognize an excluded player… the most effective point of intervention would be at the gaming area or machine level.
The 2007 Williams paper noted that facial recognition technology that is used by some North American casinos for identification of card counters and cheats could be extended to detect self-excluders.
The 2008 Responsible Gambling Council paper noted the potential for facial recognition technology to support multi-venue exclusion. The paper stated:
There are many opportunities for enhancing detection, including the addition of facial recognition software…
The introduction of facial recognition technology has the potential to be an important tool to support broad based bans.
The 2010 Heyer paper called for action at a political level to introduce effective and efficient enforcement of access controls. The paper stated:
… the findings underline the benefits associated with self-exclusion. Essential improvements in financial situation, psychosocial functioning, and subjective feeling of well-being – at least in the short-term – confirm the necessity of including access restrictions as a central element in a comprehensive social-responsibility concept. Notwithstanding this basically positive conclusion, the empirical data indicate a need for improvement in various elements of the actual design and implementation of self-exclusion programs. In general, recommendations for action on a political level (e.g., the introduction or effective and efficient enforcement of access controls) can be separated from strategies that should be implemented directly by operators (e.g., the raising of awareness of the self-exclusion option and reducing the structural access barriers to this measure).
Why does the system go to the trouble of physically disabling the gaming machine when an excluded person is detected? Surely just notifying the venue staff would be sufficient.
A key part of Positive Outlook's system is the ability to physically prevent an excluded player from continuing to play without the need to wait for, and rely on, human intervention from venue staff. On average a player can only play two spins before the system identifies them and disables the spin buttons on the button panel.
In the 2010 Auckland University of Technology's Gambling and Addictions Research Centre report Formative Investigation into the Effectiveness of Gambling Venue Exclusion Processes in New Zealand it was noted that a high percentage of excluded persons were breaching their exclusion orders (on multiple occasions) and a very large number of excluded persons were never identified by venue staff. Alarmingly, the AUT Report also noted that if the excluded person was recognised, only 55% of participants said that they were then approached by staff and asked to leave.
It is also important that an excluded player is physically prevented from playing before endorphins are produced from the gambling experience. The production of endorphins provides a neurochemical reward and makes it harder to continue to resist the urge to gamble and thus harder for a person to address their gambling addiction.
Even if hospitality staff were 100% accurate in their identification of excluded players, the current system can still result in an excluded player being able to play for up to 15 minutes (as staff typically sweep the gaming room only every 15 minutes).
When the system disables the machine does it trigger a fault or lock up the machine?
No. Positive Outlook's system physically prevents an excluded player from continuing to play. The system temporarily disconnects the circuit between the spin buttons and the machine resulting in the player being prevented from commencing a new game. The collect and help buttons are not disabled. A player is able to collect their remaining credits as normal. The system does not stop a game mid-spin and does not trigger any fault. The system simply stops an excluded player from continuing to play.