NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s gaming reform will cost the state more than $340 million in what he described “one of the biggest law enforcement, social and community reforms in the state’s history”. He committed to turning all poker machines in NSW cashless within five years, the most significant change to gaming since EGMs were legalised in NSW in 1956.
“This is a mess that we fix today,” he said at a press conference on Monday morning. “We cannot have a situation in NSW where families are broken and people are putting their life savings down pokie machines.”
He said after consultation with industry experts that it would take five years to develop and introduce the cashless technology.
“Reform to get it right takes time,” he said. The buyback scheme for 2000 EGMs was also “money well spent”, he said. The plan also includes self-imposed daily limits that can only be changed after seven days. There is also a proposed buyback of 2000 EGMs from clubs over five years.
“We will require that all new machines purchased will be cashless, with the rollout beginning early next year,” he said. As for data, he said legislation will be introduced should the Coalition win back government at the 25 March election.
“We will legislate the strictest privacy protections for player data, with no government or industry access to personalised player data other than for law enforcement purposes, with strict penalties for misuse.”
But ClubsNSW says it is concerned about the significant costs and technical challenges associated with the Coalition’s proposal to implement a mandatory cashless gaming system.
“We’re particularly concerned about the implications for small, regional clubs and the impact this will have on jobs across the industry,” ClubsNSW said in a statement after a Sydney Morning Herald report revealed early details of the plans which were discussed at a snap Cabinet meeting held yesterday.
Details of the reform include financial support for clubs to introduce the new cashless card technology, and a specific regional transition fund.
No-interest loans will also be made available for small and medium venues to replace old EGMs with new cashless technology equipment. The plan also include one-off $50,000 grants to clubs help fund new income streams which include live music and F&B to reduce their reliance on gaming revenue.
An independent implementation team will be appointed to devise technology to remove cash from all machines, starting in 2024 with a deadline of December 2028.
Chris Minns’ NSW Labor Government would cut the number of poker machines and impose a mandatory cashless gaming trial if it wins the election, while premier Dominic Perrottet has vowed to push the cashless gaming card through cabinet before the March poll.
Labor Opposition leader Chris Minns’ plan includes reducing the number of poker machines, capping daily limits and trialling cashless gaming technology in 500 machines across the state.
The Premier will proposed measures will be tabled in the first sitting of the NSW parliament should Perrottet win the March 25 election.
“ClubsNSW is committed to working with whomever wins the March election to combat problem gambling and keep criminals out of gaming venues,” the ClubsNSW statement said.