Last year the NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC) revealed the extent of money laundering occurring in NSW poker machines that were being used to clean "dirty cash" in their Inquiry into Money Laundering via Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs) in Pubs and Clubs.
Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced that all pokies in NSW would become cashless by 2028 if the Coalition is re-elected with new reforms coming into play.
The Premier highlighted the dangers of gambling, where there is a common pattern of harmful behaviour of individuals continuing to gamble even when they cannot afford to.
"We've had people throw their life savings down poker machines and that has to change," Premier Perrottet said.
Premier Perrottet also commented on the concerning evidence that seriously threatens community safety and well-being.
"For generations to come, we will not have money laundering and we will not have a family breakdown due to problem gambling in this state." He said.
THE GOVERNMENTS RESPONSE
- Support all 8 recommendations of the NSW Crime Commissioner to eliminate money laundering in pubs and clubs
- Introduce mandatory cashless gaming in NSW spanning all venues
- Legislate 31 December 2028 as the date by which the full transition must be complete
- Require that all new machines purchased once the rollout commences be cashless and that any new cash machine purchased after July 2023 have a load-up limit of $500
- Enable player identity verification linked to a single bank account
- Ensure funds for gaming come from a bank account rather than allowing credit to be used
- Require players to set limits that cannot be increased for a week
- Mandate breaks in play and the ability for players to self-exclude
- Implement a state-wide self-exclusion register and support third-party exclusion
- Ensure personal player data can only be used for law enforcement, not for other government or commercial purposes
- Legislate the best possible player privacy protections for all system-generated data
- Prohibit the use of VIP Lounge signage and political donations from both pubs and clubs
- Introduce an optional buy-back scheme targeted to acquire 2,000 machines over 5 years.
How pubs, clubs and the community will be impacted:
There will be a variety of support available to businesses that transition to cashless technology, to promote safe behaviour in these environments.
'Pubs and clubs are the lifeblood of so many communities across NSW and I want them to thrive, continue to grow and be a place for fun and enjoyment for everyone." Said Premier Dominic Perrottet.
The support available will help incentivise the community and businesses to take up cashless technology before 2028.
For small and medium-sized pubs and clubs, there will be interest-free loans to support the entire cost of transition to reduce the financial stress of this change on these businesses.
A community grant program will also be available to cover the full cost of all non-tax-deductible donations that these businesses make to their communities including supporting organisations such as junior sporting teams that these clubs/pubs may sponsor.
A one-off diversification grant will be paid to these organisations to support new income streams such as live music, entertainment, bowling greens and stages to encourage safer alternatives for the public to engage in rather than gambling or pokies use.
An additional fund of $40 million will be provided to regional pubs and clubs to ease the transition, especially with consideration of the importance of these organisations in providing revenue in regional areas.
'We've always said the path to cashless gaming should be a sensible one and recognise the difference between a big venue in the city and a small venue in the bush. This package delivers on that." Said Deputy Premier Paul Toole.
For small venues, there will be a $20 million fund available to assist with the transition.
The government will work with these organisations to allow for an efficient and smooth transition and give them the support they need to improve the health and safety of the community.
'My government will walk with our pubs and clubs every step of the way on this transition.' Said Premier Dominic Perrottet.
CRITICISMS OF THE REFORM
Many pubs and clubs are opposing the deadline on cashless poker machines with claims that the government does not fully comprehend the impact that the reform could have on the economy and the industry.
ClubsNSW said it was concerned about the "significant costs and technical challenges associated with the Coalition's proposal to implement mandatory cashless gaming."
"We're particularly concerned about the implications for small, regional clubs and the impact this will have on jobs across the industry," the ClubsNSW spokeswoman said in a statement.
However, despite criticism, Premier Perrottet has continued to encourage everyone to get on board as the changes are in the best interest of the people in NSW.
"I say to people right across NSW today that I believe this reform will work [and] that will mean some people obviously will need to make sacrifices and change, but sacrifice and change that supports some of the most vulnerable people in our community – that is a sacrifice worth making." Perrottet said.