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March 25, 2023

Gambling reform

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Recent media coverage has ensured gambling reform is an election issue in NSW. One concern is around gambling on electronic gaming machines (EGMs) or ‘pokies’, and whether to introduce a cashless gaming card.

EGMs enable money gained via illegal means to be ‘laundered’, or made ‘clean’. Check your favourite search engine for details of the simple way this is achieved. They also present a higher risk of addiction than other forms of gambling (NSW government study, 2019 and other studies).

Crime Commissioner, Michael Barnes, said that owing to the lack of traceable data, the exact scale of money-laundering activity is impossible to determine, ‘but it is clear from our investigations it involves many billions of dollars every year’. Barnes said poker machines offer one of the last easy ways to ‘clean’ money from criminal undertakings, and that a cashless gaming card ‘will help exclude vast sums of dirty cash that are primarily the proceeds of drug dealing’.

In deciding to support the cashless gaming card policy or not, here are some facts to ponder: 

Australia has about one-third of one per cent of the world’s population, but has 21 per cent of the world’s EGMs – pokies.

Australia has close to 200,000 EGMs and NSW has 86,000 of those.

EGMs are the main reason Australia has the greatest gambling losses per head of any country in the world (Alliance for Gambling Reform).

In the six months to May 2022, registered clubs had a profit of $2.217 billion and pubs had a profit of $1.632 billion (Liquor & Gaming NSW).

Turnover in NSW clubs and pubs was about $95 billion in 2020–21, a significant portion being dirty money (NSW Crime Commission, October 2022).

The ClubsNSW directors of (not-for-profit) clubs are on salaries of $1.5 million (Alliance for Gambling Reform).

The very first recommendation of the NSW Crime Commission 2022 Report was to introduce mandatory cashless gaming cards. Food for considerable thought!

M Perkins, Wollongbar

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  1. EGMs should never have been allowed in hotels. The majority of clubs are sports clubs which must by law use their profits to support local bodies. Whereas hotel profits go to the individual proprietor or shareholders of companies who own machines. Simples.


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