Clubs Australia Seeks Exemption from Biometric Data Laws for Pokie Venues

Clubs Australia, a casino lobby group, has petitioned for major poker machine venues to be exempt from new biometric data regulations. A move that stirred debate across the country. Namely, these newly proposed laws would strictly govern the use, storage, and destruction of biometric data, including face recognition technology. All this is done in the name of privacy and data security. However, there are certain concerns surrounding this legislation.

On the one hand, Aussie punters are quite familiar with their options when it comes to casinos. Many rely on insights from, to choose operators based on their assortment of pokies, bonuses, and payment options. Others, however, prefer to visit the brick-and-mortar venues to play their favorite games. Many such establishments use facial recognition technology to detect people who are on a self-excluded register. The argument of Clubs Australia is that the new restrictions could undermine these harm-reducing measures.

The Case for Flexibility

Aussie casino venues use facial identification software that operates based on a ‘’one-to-many’’ matching process. How it works is the system compares an individual’s face against a large database of faces, i.e. the self-exclusion list. This is how the casino identifies those struggling who are self-excluded and bars them from gambling. Clubs Australia argues that the new law could seriously impede these measures aimed at reducing gambling harm. It calls for ‘’flexibility’’ and for the clubs who use these technologies to be exempt from these restrictions.

Clubs Australia Seeks Exemption from Biometric Data Laws for Pokie Venues

Source: Freepik

The Legislation and Privacy Concerns

The initiative is part of the government’s efforts to enhance privacy and secure sensitive info. The system is meant to interact with the state ID systems and change the way they currently operate, restricting the “one-to-many” matching processes, except for specific national security or immigration purposes. Those in favor of the new laws are against the carve-out for casinos. They claim that biometric data could infringe on individual privacy rights and impact everyone, not just those self-excluded.

Some argue that more evidence is required, to be on board with Club Australia’s request for excamption. Club Australia needs to be transparent on issues of data collection and security and make a compelling case that there are no better alternatives, for the exemption to be

Possible Alternatives

Before you decide to fully switch to mobile pokies, a compromise may yet be reached. For example, a cashless card system linked to gambling machines has been suggested as a more effective and privacy-friendly method for self-exclusion. Experts believe that this method would make facial recognition tech redundant.


Many deem that system of checks up too invasive, and unsatisfactory. The reason is that facial recognition software isn’t as accurate as some claim it to be. The overhaul of the system could mean a victory on both fronts. More privacy for players, and more accurate identification of those who are self-excluded.


As the debate unfolds, it becomes clear that a satisfactory middle ground between the two causes is essential. The data privacy activists will not stand for a total exemption of casinos. After all, casinos that can collect sensitive data with impunity are a scary concept. We have witnessed more than once that big companies aren’t always forthcoming when it comes to data sharing. So, you never know who ends up having access to your info.

Meanwhile, Clubs Australia is clear in its stance that self-exclusion is an integral part of the responsible gambling philosophy. The path forward, although still unclear, will surely leverage technological advancements, while honoring privacy concerns.


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