NSW Labor has today unveiled a major plan for reform to gaming in New South Wales.
The measures announced today gets the balance right. It’s a combination of long-term and short-term changes that ensures we reduce the harm caused by problem gambling and put a stop to money laundering and criminal activity as outlined by the NSW Crime Commission report.
At the same time, it ensures the industry and sector can smoothly transition in a way that secures its future, as well as protecting the 127,000 people employed in 2,260 pubs and clubs across the state.
Expanded Mandatory Cashless Gaming Trial
A Minns Labor Government will introduce a mandatory 12-month cashless gaming trial in New South Wales, which will begin on 1 July 2023.
The trial will include at least 500 machines, with a mix of pubs and clubs across metro areas of highest use, other metro areas, and regional areas. It will look at different cashless technologies, what infrastructure investments are required, including cost, the impact on employment and industry and the impacts on problem gambling, and options to further reduce problem gambling.
The trial will be overseen by an independent panel, made up of representatives from law enforcement, gambling and health experts and academics, and industry.
The panel will deliver their report and findings of the trial to Cabinet, with findings and recommendations to be made public.
The panel will be tasked with providing a roadmap to implementation of gaming reform across New South Wales.
Labor will ban financial donations from clubs
Labor will lead the way when it comes to political donations, passing legislation to ban political parties from accepting financial donations from clubs who have gaming machines.
For Labor, this starts today and under a Labor Government, it will become law.
Labor will introduce poker machine cash input limits
From 1 July 2023, Labor will reduce cash feed-in limits to $500 per machine for all new poker machines – a tenfold reduction from the current limit of $5000. This will also be enforced for newer machines where the changes can be made rapidly, and Labor will then work to reduce feed-in limits in existing older machines where possible.
This is an important interim step while the trial is underway and goes directly to the Crime Commission report which found that New South Wales has the highest load up limits in the country, which represents a clear money laundering vulnerability.
This is also a vital step in harm minimisation.
Labor will ban all external gaming related signage
Under Labor, all external signage (e.g. “VIP Lounge”) promoting gaming machines around pubs and clubs will be banned.
Labor will work with the industry on a sensible time frame for implementing this ban.
Labor will reduce the amount of poker machines in New South Wales
Labor will reduce the overall amount of poker machines in New South Wales.
We’ll reduce the gaming machine entitlement cap immediately to be in line with the existing number of entitlements in the state right now.
Labor will also reduce the number of machines by moving to a simple 1 in 2 forfeitures for all future trades between clubs and pubs.
Currently any pub or club seeking to increase their machines must have room within their existing threshold, and then must get those machines from other pubs or clubs. When there is a trade, some entitlements are forfeited – currently this usually happens at a rate of one machine forfeited for every three traded. Labor will make this one for every two – accelerating the removal of poker machines from the system.
As the number of machine entitlements are removed from circulation – every year the cap will be reset at the new, lower number of machine entitlements.
Labor will invest in harm minimisation programs through a $100 million fund
NSW Labor will reinvest the $100 million penalty paid by Star Casino into measures and programs that reduce harm caused by problem gambling. The fund will be overseen by the independent panel. It will go towards:
- Facilitating the mandatory trial;
- Appropriate gaming machine reduction in consultation with the independent panel;
- Harm minimisation programs, including an additional $10 million a year into the Responsible Gambling Fund; and
- Implementing recommendations from the independent panel and the mandatory trial.
Labor will introduce Responsible Gaming Officers (RGO) in venues
A Labor Government will introduce a Responsible Gaming Officer for venues with more than 20 poker machines.
There is currently a requirement for those in registered clubs and hotels to have completed a Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) course.
The role would be enshrined in law to ensure that the RGO could not be subject to adverse action by the employer, when acting in the course of their duty, such as banning a patron. This will bring New South Wales in line with a similar scheme that exits in Victoria.
We will also focus on mandatory periodic training to ensure that venue managers comply with their statutory obligations to Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Funding.
Introduce third party exclusion and mandatory facial recognition to enhance self-exclusion
A Minns Labor Government will expand the register beyond the current limited self-exclusion program – to include the whole state.
The program will also be expanded to allow third party exclusion which will include family members and police via application through the court system or ILGA. This will include money launderers and those believed to be using the proceeds of crime.
This would work in concert with facial recognition technology already being introduced into pubs and clubs.
A deadline of 30 June 2024 will be established for pubs and clubs to implement facial recognition technology.
This will be supported by strict privacy protocols and restrict those people from receiving marketing or promotional material.
NSW Labor Leader, Chris Minns said:
“I said from the outset this is complicated policy area and we needed an evidenced based approach to make sure any measures we introduced would work and wouldn’t have any unintended consequences.
“We’ve worked with a range of stakeholders to get the balance right."
“Labor is leading the way – from today Labor will not accept donations from clubs with gaming machines. The Liberals and Nationals should make the same commitment. And if we win – it’ll be law.
“We know the harmful effects of problem gaming on families, and I want to make sure we stamp out criminal activity in clubs.
“Under Labor, we’ll have an evidence-based approach, less pokies in NSW and a range of harm minimisation measures.”
NSW Shadow Minister for Customer Service and Digital, Yasmin Catley said:
“NSW Labor has done the work, consulted, and come up with a sensible and balanced approach to addressing problem gaming in the state and to remove crooks out of our pubs and clubs.”
“But we need to make sure we bring people and the sector with us.”
“These measures will be important and effective changes to the way gaming works in New South Wales, and it will only be delivered under a Labor Government.”