Cashless gaming meets staunch opposition 

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Cashless gaming meets staunch opposition 

A proposal for cashless gaming options for poker machines in New South Wales has been met with fierce opposition.

Calvin Ayre reports that lobby groups for the hotels and clubs association have voiced their concerns over the idea, with the costs set to inhibit growth of new business in the clubs and pubs across the state, it said.

The proposed changes to state laws would force gamblers to register and pre-load money onto the gaming card.

The system would be linked to the state-run self-exclusion database for problem gambling.

ClubsNSW have called the proposal an “expensive solution” being forced onto clubs.

Chief executive Josh Landis expressed his doubts to the media.

“The industry simply isn’t going to accept blindly any ideas that lack detail about cost impact,” he said.

Former NSW politician Michael Daley remained critical of the proposed scheme.

“Some of these measures could devastate pubs and clubs at a time when their survival is under threat and protecting jobs is paramount.”

The NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party have also expressed their skepticism over the proposal highlighting the privacy concerns for prospective players, highlighting the ideas were relying on “fallible and hackable cloud-based solutions.”

SFFP’s Robert Borsak accused the government of wanting to hurt smaller pubs and clubs.

“The economic impact on NRL and AFL sporting clubs, on community RSLs, bowling clubs, country pubs and their community support activities will be devastating,” he said.

Other senior NSW politicians expressed their disdain for the idea, including Tania Mihailuk, who questioned the effectiveness of the proposal on social media.

The state opposition continues to pour over the proposal, with the Alliance for Gambling reform expressing their support, saying the proposal will tackle problem gambling.

Chief lobbyist Tim Costello was pleased with discussions so far.

“It is immensely encouraging to have a minister responsible for gambling in NSW seeking significant reform to support people experiencing issues with gambling, and also speaking about the harms poker machines do in what is effectively the non-casino pokies capital of the world.”

Cashless pokies could be coming to NSW

Cashless poker machines in New South Wales have been welcomed by anti-gambling advocates.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in early October that the state government is proposing reforms that would require poker machine gamblers to register and pre-load money to a government-issued card, which would operate in a similar way to cashless Opal cards for the public transport network.

The card would be linked to the state’s exclusion register to prevent it being used by thousands of self-excluded gamblers.

The state’s clubs were surprised by the proposal on Saturday.

Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate Tim Costello said the scheme indicated the NSW government “seems to have finally recognised the immense damage poker machines do in the state.”

“It is immensely encouraging to have a minister responsible for gambling in NSW seeking significant reform to support people experiencing issues with gambling, and also speaking about the harms poker machines do in what is effectively the non-casino pokies capital of the world.”

The group was waiting for more information on how the card scheme would work, but Mr Costello said: “Our main concern would be if people lost the sense of losing ‘real’ money if everything was digital, but this could be overcome with the right design and functionality.

“The government must look at safeguards to ensure there are no unintended consequences that increase harms.”

Senior cabinet minister Victor Dominello, who has responsibility for gambling, has crossbench support in the upper house for the proposed changes, including from the Greens and one Nation’s Mark Latham, to ensure the new laws can pass.

Mr Dominello last week released draft harm minimisation legislation for public consultation, which suggested facial recognition could be used to identify problem gamblers.

The gambling card was not included in the draft bill, but Mr Dominello has been consulting widely with his colleagues and MPs from all parties to shore up support for it.

A ClubsNSW spokeswoman said on Saturday the proposal for a cashless gambling scheme had not been mentioned in the draft legislation and “appears to have caught everyone by surprise.”

“ClubsNSW looks forward to the opportunity to engage with the NSW government in a construction and respectful manner.”

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