New South Wales is actively testing cards for cashless gambling in casinos
Pressure is mounting on elected officials in New South Wales to do something about potentially billions of dollars in crime proceeds being laundered through poker (slot) machines in pubs there. Moving to a cashless system with cards is seen by most as the only way to monitor the money going into and out of the pokies.
That’s apparently not quite as easy as it would seem and the path to a cashless system is fraught with pitfalls if it isn’t done properly, according to law enforcement authorities and stakeholders in the issue.
The impetus to transition from cash-fed machines to electronic cards with stored value and transaction tracking was a scathing report based on a joint law enforcement agency inquiry into potential money laundering in NSW.
The powerful New South Wales Crime Commission led the inquiry that determined ‘Large sums” of ill-gotten gains are churned through cash-fed gambling machines in clubs and pubs throughout the state, “rewarding and perpetuating crime in the community”.
The Crime Commission called for a gambling card to be created to replace cash gambling in the machines to fix what the commission called “a $95bn-a-year information black hole”.
Last Thursday, the Liberal party chair and premier of NSW pressed the case for a gambling card to replace cash gambling even though the idea had little enthusiasm and no commitment from the Labor or National parties. He said the cards would not be introduced as a “kneejerk response” to the study findings and implementation would take support from all sides.
Limited Cashless Card Study Already Underway in Newcastle
Announced in May, a limited trial of a voluntary cashless cards scheme was started at Wests Newcastle on October 8th. The trial is to run for 90 days.
As many as 200 members are using digital technology which can stymie money laundering and prevent gambling harm – two very different problems and the nexus creates the opportunity for political chaos and footdragging.
NSW Minister for (Lands and Water) Hospitality and Racing Kevin Anderson said the trial would test how the technology works in real-life conditions as well as reveal potential benefits for venues and patrons.
“The trial is part of an exciting new era where innovations such as digital wallets offer customers greater convenience and control over their spending and help venues and authorities identify suspected cases of money laundering,” Anderson said.
“Technology developed by Aristocrat Gaming has been installed on 36 of the Wests club’s gaming machines using Bluetooth to connect patrons’ mobile phones to machines. The technology will allow for a Bluetooth connection between a patron’s mobile phone and the machine. This will let patrons transfer money directly from the gaming wallet on their phone onto the machine.
“The digital wallet can be used to fund gaming machine play and players can set spending or time limits, access real-time spending data, take a break or self-exclude from gambling, and access other responsible gambling tools and services. Patrons cannot load funds into the gaming wallet from the gaming floor,” noted Anderson.