NSW May Move to Cashless Pokies

Cashless Pokies

The future of pokies in NSW could change drastically if reforms being proposed get passed. According to a report from the Brisbane Times, NSW may move to cashless pokies and players will need to register for gambling cards to play.

Other changes may include mandatory facial recognition technology at pokie parlors and the ability for family members to place problem gamblers on exclusion lists.

Minister Dominello Proposes Sweeping Changes for Pokies

Last week, Minister Victor Dominello released a draft that is proposing sweeping reforms for pokies in NSW. Minister Dominello is responsible for gambling in the region and is looking to reduce harm in his bill. The measures will change both how venues offer pokies and how players gamble.

Among the changes suggested is the requirement of establishments to have facial recognition for players. This is to be used to identify problem gamblers. We reported last week on an ABC Investigations report that revealed that many pokie venues in NSW don’t have sufficient protection for problem gamblers.

The bill will also impose penalties for failing to identify problem gamblers. Presently, pubs and other venues do not receive a penalty for allowing problems gamblers to play. This could change under the new law.

Something else that Minister Dominello is looking to institute is cashless pokies. While not part of the initial bill, Dominello is drumming up support for cashless pokie machines. Players would be required to sign up for a government-issued gambling card to allow them to play pokies. They would then fund it like a prepaid card or voucher like Neosoft.

There’s a bit of resistance to this new bill, primarily from pubs and pokie venues. They claim that these measures will impose expenses on companies that cannot presently afford them due to the pandemic.

According to Clubs NSW chief Josh Landis, “Gaming revenue has fallen 14 per cent year-on-year as a result of the 10-week industry shutdown, while food and beverage takings are down 60 to 70 per cent. I don’t think anyone would agree that the middle of a pandemic is the right time to introduce onerous new compliance requirements.”

Requests Not Unreasonable Considering the Lack of Protections

Normally, I would be against restrictive gambling laws. Many online gambling laws prevent legitimate online casinos in Australia from serving responsible gamblers. However, this is not a case of government overstepping their duties.

It is clear from some reports that there is a lack of effort being put forth by certain venues regarding problem gambling. A problem gambler should not be able to enter a pokie establishment and gamble. Problem gambling is a disease and ignoring those recovering gamblers just worsens the problem.

One part of the draft that should already be in place is allowing family members to ask clubs and pubs to ban problem gamblers. Often, problem gamblers lack the ability to stop their gambling. Someone has to step in to help. This provision would allow loved ones to start the process of getting a problem gambler help.

Next, it is hard to side with the pubs and clubs regarding expenses over facial recognition or cashless card systems. These systems are necessary to protect both players and establishments. If a company is truly interested in its customers, they should want to do what is necessary to protect them.

It is true that these changes will cause some hardships and cause companies to incur expenses. However, the measures are necessary to protect players. Since clubs and pubs seem to be less than willing to help, the government must step in and get problem gamblers the help they need.