Posted on: January 6, 2023, 10:30h. 

Last updated on: January 6, 2023, 12:23h.

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has been exploring the possibility of mandating cashless gaming in all of its casinos and gaming properties. However, it has run into difficulty, and this could be because of discord within the political ranks.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet speaks at a press conference. He’s having difficulty finding legislative support for the concept of cashless gaming in the state. (Image: The Australian)

The idea of cashless gaming caught on following reports that Australia’s gaming industry is rife with abuse and money laundering. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is supporting the transition as pilot programs emerge across the state in response to those allegations.

However, he reportedly isn’t getting enough support from parliamentary members within his government. The Guardian reports that pushback is making it difficult for any legislative measure to have a fighting chance.

Don’t Demonize Gambling

David Elliott, NSW’s New South Wales Minister for Transport, opposes the notion of forced cashless gaming. He reportedly acknowledged skepticism on the part of lawmakers, who are concerned that going cashless would “demonize” some types of gambling.

Should NSW institute cashless gaming on slot machines, as Perrottet has suggested, it wouldn’t solve the issue, Elliott says. Instead, it would only marginalize slot machine gamblers, while ignoring participation in other forms of gambling, such as the lottery.

Therefore, according to Elliott, this “holistic approach” misses the mark. He’s not alone in his thinking, with other legislators in Perrottet’s cabinet opposing the measure and causing a rift.

The only solution would be for NSW to go cashless across the board for all forms of gambling. It would be extremely difficult to implement and would almost certainly lead to a reduction in gambling participation. This means less tax revenue for the state.

Perrottet has said on several occasions that he supports the idea of cashless gaming, but doesn’t believe it should be mandatory. The NSW Crime Commission, on the other hand, wants it to be a requirement.

That agency is responsible for asserting that the slot machine segment is overwhelmingly an ecosystem full of money laundering. Scrutiny of its data later revealed that the agency may have exaggerated the results to support its claim.

The Great Divide

Members of Parliament (MP) Hugh McDermott and Greg Warren clapped back following the report. McDermott recently asserted that it would be virtually impossible to launder enough money through slot machines for them to be a viable channel. He also accused the commission of trying to put up a smokescreen to hide its own inability to fight major crime.

MP Rob Stokes is on Perrottet’s side. He’s been vocal in his opposition to the current state of gambling in NSW and supports anything that he believes will make it better, even in the absence of proven success.

Mark Morey, a high-ranking official with the Labor Council of New South Wales, disagrees. The organization is an advocate for worker unions in the state.

Morey, in attacking the government and ClubsNSW this week, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the concept of cashless gaming should be a “no-brainer” for all politicians. He accuses the gaming industry of using “deceitful tactics” in an effort to retain and grow its place in the economy.

All of the opposition to cashless gaming falls back to the same argument — that Australia is overwhelmed by problem gambling. In forming that argument, opponents to cashless gaming like to point out that 80% of the country gambles. What they fail to mention, though, is that the vast majority do it responsibly.

Several studies have proven that the “problem gambling” rate in the country is only about 1%.

Despite the friction, Perrottet vows that changes are coming. What those may be will depend on who wields the most power at the end of the battle.