The expansion of the NSW Government’s needless cashless card poker machine trial will lead to even more delays in its completion and play into the gambling industry’s hands by stalling critical gambling reforms, the CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Carol Bennett, said.
“Premier Chris Minns should immediately scrap his needless trial of a gambling cashless card and introduce the card now, in the wake of new figures showing NSW suffered a record $8 billion in poker machine losses last financial year,” Ms Bennett said.
“There was never any need for this trial. The NSW Crime Commission had already provided ample evidence that a mandatory, pre-commitment cashless gambling card would both reduce gambling harm and also combat money laundering and the proceeds of crime being fed into the State’s 87,000 machines.”
Ms Bennett said the ‘independent panel’ was dominated by gambling industry representatives who will do all they can to maintain their profits and delay any reforms.
“This is a needless, sham trial which is dominated by industry. The Premier, in taking this approach has proven he is captured by the industry and is ignoring the clear evidence that the people of NSW want significant gambling reform,” Ms Bennett said.
“This trial was promised during the March NSW election, it has still not started, and expanding it further will delay it further. And even when it eventually starts it will be so dominated by industry input that it will add no value what-so-ever.”
The Alliance recently released the latest poker machine losses for FY 2022/23 showing losses in NSW had jumped by more than 20% to over $8 billion annually compared to FY 18/19, the last year in which operations were not interrupted by COVID-19.
The figures were collated for the Alliance by the Gambling and Social Determinants Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University.
“The government boasts about the $100m over five years it is devoting to gambling harm reduction, but this is akin to putting a student paramedic at the bottom of a dangerous cliff. A mandatory, precommitment cashless gambling card would reduce the level of gambling – it would effectively put a fence at the top of the cliff to stop people going over,” Ms Bennett said.
The Alliance is the only national peak body working to reduce gambling harm. We have over 60 supporting organisations in our network and 23 leadership local councils in Victoria who have an interest in reducing the exponential level of gambling harm in Australia. We are a registered health promotion charity and are 100% funded by donations from individuals, foundations, trusts, local government and other sources that do not have ties to the gambling industry. We are not affiliated with any political party.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform has long advocated for public health reforms that are evidence-based and community-backed with the sole purpose of reducing and preventing gambling harm in Australia. Online gambling is increasingly becoming one of the biggest health issues we are facing as a country.
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704