RSL Australia and NSW clubs divided over plan to mandate gaming cards

January 24, 2023
Aleney De Winter

RSL Australia president, Greg Melick, speaking on Radio National Breakfast, has backed the Perrottet government’s plan to mandate cashless gaming cards in NSW, citing it as a sensible approach, despite a campaign against it by NSW’s RSL and Services Clubs Association.

RSL Australia is a registered charity that supports veterans, while the RSL and Services Clubs Association runs physical clubs bearing the RSL name in NSW. While the two groups have a MoU, they are separated by legislation in NSW.

Mr Melick believes the continuing unrest over pokies in clubs is causing harm to the charity’s reputation for advocating for benefits, treatment and the welfare of veterans nationally, and has threatened a split with the NSW Association over its resistance to gaming reform.

To avoid confusing the public who, Mellick says, see the RSL name and assume the charity advocates gambling, the veteran barrister suggested that if the clubs can’t stick to guidelines and ethical practices, they should stop using the name.

Mr Mellick admitted statistics on the impact of gambling on returned veterans was limited, but says there is no question that poker machines cause harm and aid money laundering.

If RSL Australia and RSL and Services Clubs Association can’t reach an appropriate arrangement, Mr Mellick said there would be no choice but to approach government to legislate to prevent the latter from using the name.

Image Erik Mclean via Unsplash


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