Leagues, RSL clubs push for a digital wallet trial in major shift

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“What COVID showed us is that people are used to tap and go and so now is the time to start trials … we have to take people on the journey with us towards a cashless society,” Mr Hammond said.

Mr Hammond said cash would be around “for the foreseeable future” but it was time to move towards new technology which would help combat problem gambling and money laundering.

He said trials could be under way within months in some of the state’s largest leagues clubs.

Garrie Gibson, chief executive of RSL and Service Clubs Association, which represents about 175 venues, said he shared government concerns around problem gambling and money laundering.

However, Mr Gibson said, his members did not support Mr Dominello’s initial proposal.

“Our concern with a gaming card would be that it would restrict casual players, but a digital wallet would allow there to be a range of technological solutions which would be suitable for smaller clubs in regional areas, as well as larger clubs with 400 machines,” Mr Gibson said.

Hotels have also opposed a gambling card.

Powerful lobby group ClubsNSW has been investigating digital wallet technology for several months. The technology would not be compulsory and would be operated by each venue.

ClubsNSW had submitted its proposal for a digital wallet trial to the government’s gaming machine technology working group.

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Under its proposal, there could be personal spend limits, daily or weekly transaction limits and large payouts would be “quarantined”.

Mr Dominello wants to move to cashless poker machines in a bid to help problem gamblers, but also to stop criminals using the machines to wash dirty money.

The scathing Bergin inquiry report into Crown Resorts found the casino giant “facilitated money laundering”, prompting the chair of the NSW gaming authority to say money laundering is also an issue plaguing clubs and pubs.

The report said Mr Dominello’s proposed gambling card would be a powerful tool to combat money laundering and organised crime.

Tim Costello, the chief advocate for Alliance for Gambling Reform, said NSW was the most “pokies-captured state in the world outside of Nevada and its Las Vegas”.

“We welcome this pilot and the efforts of a minister who is clearly committed to gambling reform and harm reduction,” Mr Costello said.

“The trial is an important first step, but as we move to cashless gambling, it is absolutely essential that we get cash out of the system to stop money laundering and reduce gambling harm.”

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Alexandra Smith is the State Political Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

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