The NSW Crime Commission’s report into money laundering through poker machines in NSW pubs and clubs recommends the urgent introduction of a mandatory cashless gambling card, which, if well designed, will combat crime and reduce harm, Wesley Mission CEO and gambling reform advocate, Stu Cameron, says.
“Wesley Mission supports the NSW Crime Commission’s recommendation for a mandatory cashless gambling card, and we call on the NSW Government to take urgent action and to include harm minimisation measures to further protect the community.”
The design of the cashless gambling card is important, and its effectiveness in reducing harm can be enhanced by expanding on the measures that the NSW Crime Commission has suggested, says Cameron.
“Removing the ability to put cash into poker machines will stop money laundering in its tracks. This requires every poker machine in the state to be modified to only accept a cashless gambling card as payment. Those payment systems must be linked to bank accounts or debit cards, which themselves are linked to a proven identity.
“A universal identity-linked system also puts the power to manage gambling time and spending back into the hands of customers. It can also require people to set sensible loss limits – with the default being the Tasmanian model of $100 a day, $500 a week, and $5,000 a year. Most importantly, the scheme should be independently administered,” says Cameron.
“The gambling industry has pushed back against a mandatory card – this is not surprising as venues are profiting from criminals gambling the proceeds of crime. But the community will not tolerate inaction – clubs and pubs cannot claim that they have community interests at heart while allowing serious offenders to launder and gamble illegally gained money through poker machines.
“Vested interests should not be allowed to limit the effectiveness of the scheme. Through MOUs and similar policies signed with our NSW political leaders, the gambling industry has halted crucial reforms – this is why Wesley Mission and the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney have been calling on the Premier and Opposition Leader not to sign any similar agreements ahead of the March state election.
“In the wake of the NSW Crime Commission’s damning report, it is unconscionable for our NSW leaders to sign an agreement with ClubsNSW or AHA NSW that would limit reform. No other special interest group receives this kind of preferential treatment,” says Cameron.
Recommended measures for a cashless gambling card scheme
Money laundering measures
Harm minimisation measures
How it reduces harm
Assists in limiting access by preventing transfer of money or cards
Ability to record activity
Allows more regular activity statements, increasing awareness of total losses and time spent gambling
Deidentified data would help with gambling harm research
(Strict privacy provisions should apply and law enforcement officers should require warrants to obtain specific people’s activities)
Card links to a specific bank account
In addition, would need to prevent using credit as a source of funds
Should not be an automatic top-up, need to undertake a transaction
Maximum load limit of $1,000 per day
(including provision for cash load)
Mandatory break in play after top up
Should not be able to top up the card at the machine i.e. requires you to walk away from the machine
Should not be able to top up the card with credit
Mandatory loss limits
Default as per Tasmanian model;
$100 per day
$500 per week
$5,000 per year
Day and week limits to be easily changeable by customer. To raise annual limit a check on the source of funds would be required.
Mandatory break in play after 3 hours of continuous use, otherwise daily and weekly time limits to be set by customer (if desired)
Systems in place to ensure only a single player card per person
This implies an independent card issuing system, not venue by venue
Cannot have a venue issued card – a single system that works across all venues (casinos, pubs and clubs)
Card must be link to exclusion registers
Creates a mechanism to have a single, independently managed, state-wide exclusion register (also helps to reduce risk of data breaches)
Prevents venues using loyalty cards as gambling cards, because no loyalty system should incentivise gambling
Investigate expanding scheme to cover TAB and on-course bookmakers
Measures to prevent a person’s winnings being claimed by another party
Allow winnings up to $500 to be paid in cash
Winnings greater than $500 to be transferred into the linked bank account
Note: Special assistance will need to be given to people who do not have identity documents or who do not have bank accounts.
Amanda Bailey: 0429 484 632
Anne Holt: 0418 628 342
For media reporting on gambling harm, please strongly consider including help-seeking information:
- You can find support information on the GambleAware website: https://www.gambleaware.nsw.gov.au/i-need-support
- Speak to a counsellor 24 hours a day via the GambleAware Helpline on 1800 858 858
- Counselling is confidential and free of charge and is available to both individuals and family members experiencing gambling harm.