New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet has rolled-out what is being called “one of the biggest gambling reforms ever undertaken in Australia” under “historic changes” as part of a five-year plan.
This will see the NSW Liberal and Nationals government make every poker machine across the state cashless by December 31, 2028, in response to numerous reports of money laundering in electronic gaming machines. In contrast, Labor’s commitment currently stretches to a limit trial of 500 machines.
Kevin Anderson, Minister for Hospitality and Racing, noted: “These historic reforms are the most comprehensive in the country and through our Transition Taskforce we will work closely with the community and pubs and clubs throughout the rollout.”
Perrottet says that the proposal will provide support for pubs and clubs to transition to cashless gaming, ensure continued support for community organisations, funding for diversification into new business areas, as well as dedicated extra support to ensure the ongoing viability of regional and small venues.
Cashless gaming will include a number of features to curb problem gambling, including mandatory self-imposed limits and cooling-off periods, breaks in play, prohibiting the transfer of funds from credit-cards and ceasing automatic top-ups, with gaming funds only allowed to flow from a bank account.
This will be complemented by other system-wide changes such as self-exclusions and third-party exclusions, prohibiting the use of VIP Lounge signage and prohibiting political donations from both pubs and clubs.
Under the harm minimisation efforts to come under the changes, players would be required to set their own limits that cannot be increased for seven days, mandated breaks in play and the ability for players to self-exclude would be possible, with third party exclusion by a family member also enabled. Implementation of a state-wide self-exclusion register would also be undertaken.
“Today we make a once in a lifetime change to create a better NSW,” explained Perrottet. ‘We address the number one recommendation from the Crime Commission and we will end money laundering in pubs and clubs, while protecting jobs and supporting communities.
“We will also ensure people using poker machines receive more support, if they want it, to deal with problem gambling.
“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.
“My government will walk with our pubs and clubs every step of the way on this transition.”
The reforms, which vow to stop money laundering while protecting people, will see a date to be locked in through legislation and introduced into parliament this year.
An independent Transition Taskforce, chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, will be established and include representatives from key government agencies, industry representatives and harm minimisation experts.
This will operate from April 2023 throughout the duration of the transition, and will provide a roadmap to deliver state-wide cashless gaming by 2028, with the full rollout commencing in early 2024.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole said: “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.
“It’s a comprehensive plan to tackle the issues identified by the Crime Commission and that provides industry the time, certainty and support to plan for the future.
“We’ve set a destination and this is a sensible road to get there.”