Forced Cashless Gambling in New South Wales, Australia, Called Off for Now

A recent attempt by political figures in New South Wales (NSW) to force cashless gaming on gamblers has failed. However, it’s not the end of the line, as the subject is going to continue to appear ahead of next year’s elections.

Electronic slot machine
Electronic slot machine
An attendee plays an electronic slot machine at the Everi booth during G2E last month. A recent attempt to force cashless gaming in New South Wales, Australia suffered a setback this week. (Image: Nevada Independent)

NSW is in the process of updating various gaming-related laws, including one that targets how clubs, bars and hospitality venues operate. Member of Parliament Alex Greenwich wanted to include a rider that would require all slot machines to go cashless, but it didn’t work.

Leading  up to the final discussion on the bill, a flurry of media reports surfaced about the “cesspool” of money laundering and “gambling addiction” surrounding slots. They were timed well with Greenwich’s initiative, but the government has decided to put the reforms on the shelf for now.

Misleading Data

The NSW Crime Commission (NCC) reported last month that “billions of dollars” in money flow through slots in the state each year. However, the NCC admitted that there was no way to determine how much of the money was the result of criminal activity.

This lack of clarity, asserted NCC head Michael Barnes, is why cashless gaming is necessary. Some politicians seized on this to assume the money could only be the result of money laundering.

It was a strategic move coinciding with changes NSW wants to introduce to its gaming legislation. The state is looking at an expanded use of facial recognition technology, and wants to make administrative changes to the gaming market. However, the shelving of the bill also jeopardizes the use of facial rec in gaming venues.

The original legislative update didn’t mention cashless gaming, but Greenwich seized the moment to add his amendment. The concept has been catching on globally, but making it mandatory continues to face resistance.

In order to explore all possible options as it reforms its oversight of clubs, NSW will now slow down. It wants to make sure it looks at the issues from every angle, taking into account all of the data the NCC put forth in its report.

A Political Tool

Putting the conversation on ice means that the state will likely not act on the reforms until sometime next year. NSW will hold parliamentary elections next March, and it’s possible that the topic will become a cornerstone of political soapboxes.

Chris Minns, the leader of the NSW Labor Party, opposes the idea of cashless gaming. ClubsNSW has also stated that the idea isn’t finding a lot of support with the group, either. However, it has said that it would sign off on facial rec to combat problem gambling.

Five months is a short time, and even shorter when it comes to political campaigning. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet recognizes that the state needs to approach gambling with an open mind. However, he’s still pushing for cashless gaming.

This means that he will likely try to sway voters toward those political candidates who favor the initiative. On the other hand, Hospitality Minister and Nationals Party MP Kevin Anderson, NSW’s Minister for Hospitality and Racing, doesn’t want the government to go that far. He will work with Liberal Party Transport Minister David Elliott to try to pull voters in the other direction.

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