Although it’s still a little while away, we’re willing to take a gamble that one of the most controversial issues that will shape the 2023 NSW election is cashless gambling cards.
The 25 March poll is gearing up to be closer than may have been expected, and between high profile resignations and Sunday night cabinet meetings, it has all the hallmarks of a hot button election issue – so who are the key players and what are they saying?
The incumbent Liberal National Government
“This is not a matter of if we do it, it’s a matter of how we do it,” Dominic Perrottet, NSW Premier.
Taking a strong stance on this issue since last year, Perrottet has announced plans to roll out cashless gaming on all machines in NSW to address money laundering and problem gambling. His approach also includes strict spending caps for individuals and potential support for venues in the form of interest free loans and grants during the transition period.
To further reduce the influence of the gaming industry in NSW, Perrottet has announced plans to ban political donations from registered clubs as part of wider poker machine reforms ahead of the state election.
This position has strong backing from Unions NSW, the NSW branches of the Health Services Union and United Workers Union, Police Commissioner Karen Webb, former Prime Minister John Howards and former federal Nationals Leader John Anderson.
The Labor Opposition
“This is complicated policy and we needed an evidence-based approach to make sure any measures we introduced would work and wouldn’t have any unintended consequences,” Chris Minns, Opposition Leader.
Opposition leader Chris Minns is also looking to impose gambling reforms, although in a more measured approach than the Liberal Government. Minns has vowed to cut the number of poker machines and impose a mandatory cashless gaming trial for at least 500 machines across the state – representing less than 1% of NSW’s 90,000 machines.
Although facing some backlash for a “weaker” response to this issue, Minns was first of the two major candidates to ban political donations from pubs and clubs. He also supports lowering the statewide cap for the number of pokies machines by increasing the forfeit rate clubs and pubs must adhere to.
“We are not convinced that an untested mandatory cashless card is the way to go. The international experience demonstrates that forcing players to use cards drives recreational players to other forms of gambling, in particular to unregulated online casinos, and can exacerbate problem gambling.” Dr George Peponis OAM, ClubsNSW Chairman.
Industry groups, including ClubsNSW and the Australian Hotels Association NSW, have voiced strong opposition to some of the campaign announcements so far. Particularly citing concerns around the predicted fall in revenue and subsequent job losses which may result from cashless gaming cards. The main arguments in opposition to the cards is not having them introduced, but mainly the proposed spending limits and the strict transition to only cashless payments.
Anti-crime and addiction group’s perspective
“A significant amount of money which is put through poker machines is the proceeds of crime,” NSW Crime Commission.
One of the most persuasive arguments for the cashless cards has come from an inquiry led by the NSW Crime Commission, which found a high proportion of cash put through poker machines comes from the proceeds of crime – including drug trafficking. There are also concerns that income generated by pokies machines and gambling outlets is profiting off some of society’s most vulnerable individuals, particularly those suffering from addiction.
With this issue still making headlines, there are sure to be more updates as the election approaches. To stay up to date with all the latest news, and how it may impact your organisation, sign up to the Advoc8 mailing list here.