Industry should be in charge of cashless card for pokies in NSW: Minister

The gambling industry should be in charge of developing and implementing a cashless card for poker machines, according to the NSW minister advocating for the reform aimed at curbing money laundering.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello told a parliamentary estimates hearing on Monday he was “very much against” a government-issued gambling card and it should be left to the industry to develop it.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello says the gambling industry should be in charge of developing a cashless poker machine card, not government.

NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello says the gambling industry should be in charge of developing a cashless poker machine card, not government. Credit:Edwina Pickles

Mr Dominello, who has publicly advocated for poker machine reform since October, said while there should be government oversight into the development of any cashless card, tasking the state with its implementation would be “poor design”.

While early discussions for the measure canvassed a state-issued card, Mr Dominello, who has responsibility for gambling, distanced the government from the plan on Monday.

“I don’t think it should be government issued at all, governments are not in the business of gambling. That’s a matter for industry, it should be an industry issued card,” he said.

“This is my personal view, all of these things need to be thrashed out before cabinet and take their appropriate course, but from a design perspective I would be against a government-issued card, I just think that’s poor design.”

Mr Dominello has faced fierce opposition from the pubs and clubs over the slated reform, as well as members of his own government, including Deputy Premier John Barilaro who described the plan as a “knee-jerk reaction” that would never be supported by the Nationals.

ClubsNSW recently submitted its proposal for a digital wallet trial to the government’s gaming machine technology working group, which would include personal spending limits and the quarantining of large payouts.

Commissioner Patricia Bergin’s report into Crown Resorts’ capacity to hold a licence for its new Sydney casino at Barangaroo noted that a gambling card would be a “powerful mechanism” in tackling money laundering.

Advertisement

The NSW government has also identified money laundering as a major issue in clubs and pubs, estimating 20 per cent of money put through poker machines in the state relates to organised crime.

In one report for a single local government area over a 12-hour period on August 4 last year, there were repeated cases of player behaviour that points to money laundering.

Asked whether leaving industry to design and operate a gambling card could allow it to track behaviour and target problem gamblers, Mr Dominello said the program would have appropriate government oversight.

Mr Dominello garnered cross-bench support in the upper house for the plan last year, including the Greens and One Nation.

NSW’s 95,000 poker machines bring in $1 billion in state taxes each year and create as many as 100,000 jobs, including in sophisticated gaming machine manufacture.

The government anticipates it will generate $2.8 billion in gambling taxes this financial year, which is a 27 per cent increase from 2019/20.

A Treasury official told budget estimates the increase was attributed to higher disposable income from the federal government’s coronavirus stimulus measures, as well as delayed consumption from lockdowns and a wider shift in “leisure spending”.

Mr Dominello was asked by Greens MP Cate Faehrmann whether an optional gambling card would prove effective, he said people in NSW had proven capable of adopting new technology.

“I don’t know of a problem that can’t be solved with a digital solution and I will always be an advocate for that,” Mr Dominello said.

Catch all the day’s breaking news

At the end of each day, we’ll send you the most important breaking news headlines, evening entertainment ideas and a long read to enjoy. Sign up here.

Tom Rabe is Transport Reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.

Most Viewed in National

Latest posts