NSW poker machines to go cashless in five years

The NSW government has announced a plan to make all poker machines in the state cashless within the next five years.

NSW poker machines to go cashless in five years
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New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet announced that all poker machines in the state will be cashless within five years as part of an ambitious plan to reform the gaming industry.

The plan was passed at a snap meeting of the state cabinet on Sunday and will be implemented by a team headed by the Department of NSW Premier and Cabinet Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter.

The new policy claims to target money laundering and increase the state's nightlife, with pubs and clubs incentivized to diversify away from pokies through no-interest loans and grants of $50,000 to invest in new income streams. Gamblers will have self-imposed spending limits and the implementation team will consider daily limits.

“It’s not about being a wowser, this is about looking after the vulnerable," said Premier Perrottet. “This is about stopping money laundering and at the same time ensuring our nightlife in the city and our pubs and clubs thrive with entertainment and live music.”

The plan was welcomed by independent crossbencher Alex Greenwich, who said, "Now is the moment." However, the body representing registered clubs, ClubsNSW, raised concerns about the "significant costs and technical challenges" of going cashless and its impact on small regional clubs and jobs across the industry.

Charity Wesley Mission expressed disappointment in the timeline for the policy, with CEO Stu Cameron saying, "We still believe that, based on both evidence and expert advice, the full implementation of mandatory cashless gaming is possible in the next parliamentary term (before April 2027)."

Problem gambling has become a major election issue in NSW after a report by the NSW Crime Commission found billions of dollars in dirty money were being laundered through machines every year. With two in every five poker machines globally located in NSW, the Premier said, "That transition will be difficult, but I’ve committed completely with industry that I’ll work very closely to get that done. A sign of any great society is how it looks after its most vulnerable people." The opposition, Labor, has promised to introduce mandatory trials for 500 of the state's 95,000 poker machines, with caution about implementing mandatory change without more evidence of its success.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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