All eyes will be on NSW club Wests Newcastle when it begins its cashless gaming trial, this September.
The trial will incorporate responsible gambling measures, including money limits, session time limits, information, and real-time messaging to customers and marshals. The card would also be linked to the NSW exclusion register.
Patrons will have to step outside of a gaming room to reload from an approved bank account – no credit accounts permitted – which is part of a 100-point ID requirement.
“A powerful new suite of responsible digital tools will empower our members and allow them to set limits, speak to a staff member, or even exclude themselves from the club,” said CEO Phil Gardner of the NSW Club, which has 116,000 members across three sites.
“I think this empowers people to take responsibility for their gaming. We don’t want one cent from anybody that they don’t want to spend.”
The cashless card or digital wallet trial is partially a fallout of the Bergin inquiry into James Packer’s Crown Casino. In February, former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin released a report on behalf of Liquor & Gaming NSW into gambling giant Crown’s suitability to run a casino at its new $2.2 billion showpiece in Barangaroo.
The report found money laundering was rife at its Melbourne venue and recommended cashless gaming cards to end the practice.
Gaming in NSW is worth $6 billion a year, with $1 billion of that paid in taxes to the NSW Government.
Leading the trial is Aristocrat Gaming, whose CEO and Chief Transformation Officer Mitchell Bowen said the cashless payment trial would help patrons to manage their playing.
“Aristocrat believes that enabling cashless payment solutions is an innovation that may help enhance the long-term sustainability and vibrancy of our industry,” he said.
The trial is expected to test the theory that cashless poker machines will stop criminals and tax evaders laundering money, in addition to protecting problem gamblers. The Wests Newcastle trial will see cashless payments for all club services, including pokies.
“The ability for our members to use their own mobile wallet to pay for a meal, membership and gaming is something our industry hasn’t seen before,” Mr Gardner said.
NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said the trial would “help us combat the twin sins of money laundering and problem gambling, addressing the key concerns of the Bergin Inquiry”.
Poker machine expenditure across the 95,000 machines in NSW has increased by 12 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Clubs NSW CEO Josh Landis said the middle of a pandemic was not the right time to introduce onerous gaming compliance requirements to pubs and clubs.
“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 per cent to 70 per cent,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
While Tim Costello welcomed the trial, the head of the Alliance for Gambling Reform said the cashless card could result in players “losing the sense of losing ‘real’ money if everything was digital … but this could be overcome with the right design and functionality”.