Australia: New South Wales cashless gambling trial expanded to include nearly 4,500 poker machines

The New South Wales (NSW) government has agreed to expand a cashless gaming trial as part of the Australian state’s ongoing gambling reforms. The expanded trial will begin in the first quarter of 2024 and will cover about 4,500 machines in 28 clubs and hotels across 24 metropolitan and regional local government entities.

An independent group established in July to supervise gambling reform in NSW recommended this expansion. More than 250 machines at Wests Newcastle and Club York have already undergone cashless gaming trials.

To participate in the trial, minimum criteria include harm minimization protections, anti-money laundering protections, data security, and privacy protections. The government said five technology providers have already been given conditional approval to participate in the extended trial.

Trial will be supervised by an independent panel

The trial will be supervised by an independent panel, which will also evaluate all data collected. It will be used to help develop a reform report, with the effects on club and hotel employees, as well as infrastructure requirements and costs, being considered.

According to The Guardian, in July the government had announced that Michael Foggo, a former Liquor, Gaming and Racing Commissioner, would lead a panel of 16 industry representatives and reform advocates who would report back to the government in November 2024.

This trial is bigger, broader and delivers nine times more machines than we committed to during the election campaign,” NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris said. “The independent panel has lit the next step in our reform agenda. 

The strong interest in participating in the cashless gaming trial proves just how serious clubs and hotels are about working with the government to reduce gambling harm and money laundering associated with electronic gaming machines. The industry is clearly behind us as we undergo these landmark gaming reforms as part of our commitment to addressing money laundering and gambling harm in NSW.”

Panel chair Michael Foggo added: “The independent panel – which comprises key industry, law enforcement, community, and harm minimization representatives has been buoyed by the large number of applications it received for the trial.

This demonstrates the depth of genuine support this trial has in the industry and its commitment to addressing gambling harm and money laundering. We look forward to working with the trial participants in the coming months and monitoring and gaining insights from this important project.”

Cashless gaming a key part of the state’s ongoing reform process 

Cashless gaming is seen as a vital part of the ongoing gambling reform process in the Australian state. The NSW government has also implemented other reforms to reduce gambling harm and prevent money laundering.

These include reducing the cash input limit from AUD 5,000 (US$2,355) to $500 for all new poker machines. This is due to come into effect from July 1st. next year.

Meanwhile, the state government also confirmed tax increases for land-based casinos last month. The government reached an agreement in principle over a shorter increase in rates in the summer, effective from July 1st this year.

The changes also feature a state-wide cap on gaming machine entitlements with a cut of more than 3,000. Additionally, a ban has been introduced on political donations from clubs involved in gaming.

Other changes include removing VIP gaming signage across NSW. The government has also committed to investing $100 million into gambling harm minimization over the next four years.