If Labor wins the March state election, it would run a 12-month trial of cashless gambling cards and prohibit political donations from clubs.
Chris Minns, the leader of the opposition, unveiled the intentions on Monday, following weeks of back-and-forth with the government regarding the most effective approach to combating compulsive gambling and money laundering through pokies.
Anti-pokies activists have demanded immediate gambling reform in New South Wales, which has the nation’s largest gaming expenditure and the most poker machines.
If Labor wins the next election, a 12-month trial of the cards would begin in July 2023 in a limited number of venues with at least 500 machines in a mix of metropolitan and regional areas.
The cards impose a restriction on how much a gambler can spend per day, with estimates ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.
Chris Minns (left), the leader of the NSW Labor Party, has not committed to a cashless gaming card, preferring instead for a 12-month experiment. On Monday, he also declared a ban on political contributions from clubs.
Anti-pokies activists have demanded immediate gaming reform to reduce the suffering caused by gambling addiction and to prevent criminals from using pokies to launder money
Mr. Minns has challenged NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s proposal to deploy cashless gambling cards, requesting additional evidence regarding the system’s operation.
He has already expressed concern about the impact mandated identification cards could have on the livelihoods of the 127,000 individuals employed in bars and clubs throughout the state.
Mr. Minns’ planned 12-month trial would be overseen by an impartial panel comprised of industry, law enforcement, gambling, and health specialists, as well as academics.
Mr. Minns stated that a $100 million penalty fine paid by Star Casino would be used to compensate participating venues for revenue lost as a result of the trial.
In July 2023, should the Labor Party win the next election, it would also impose $500 cash feed-in limitations on all new slot machines.
The restriction would be reduced by a factor of ten from the current $5,000 maximum, with the party stating that it would also cut feed-in limitations on outdated devices when practicable.
In contrast, Mr. Perrottet has advocated for a gaming card to eliminate the need for cash at poker machines.
Former Liberal prime minister John Howard endorsed Mr. Perrottet’s plan, stating that it was “courageous” to take on the gaming sector and “wise” because it was a methodical approach as opposed to a gambling prohibition.
However, Mr. Perrottet has been criticized for providing scant information regarding how and when he will implement the card.
Premier of New South Wales Dominic Perrottet (pictured) has endorsed the implementation of a cashless card for poker machines if re-elected in March. However, he has not supplied specifics.
If the system is implemented, New South Wales will be the second state after Tasmania to implement the card (stock image)
If the scheme is implemented, New South Wales will be the second state after Tasmania to deploy the card, albeit with far lower limits of $100 per day, $500 per week, and $5,000 per year.
The purpose of the cards would be twofold: to reduce the harm caused by gambling addiction and to impede the capacity of pokies to be used to launder criminal monies.
The NSW Crime Commission’s Project Islington investigation in 2022 stated that “billions” of illicit funds were laundered through poker machines in the state during the 2021 fiscal year.
In addition to a spending limit, the cards would be tied to a specific individual, making anonymous betting impossible.
Mr. Minns declared on Monday that, if elected, his party will prohibit donations from clubs.
Mr. Minns said that the NSW Labor Party will no longer accept donations from clubs, so reducing the party’s income significantly.
ABC’s examination of club donations between 2011 and 2021 indicated that NSW Labor received $418,520, NSW Liberals received $179,920, and NSW Nationals received $33,490.
During that time period, Clubs NSW contributed $48,270 to the Labor Party, $35,900 to the Liberal Party, and $22,580 to the National Party.