Australian industry body ClubsNSW, which represents around 1,200 clubs across the state of New South Wales, has criticized plans to introduce mandatory cashless gaming, claiming the proposal would treat ordinary people like criminals.
ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis expressed his concerns this week after the plan received public support from the state’s Premier, Dominic Perrottet.
The introduction of a mandatory cashless gaming card and improved data collection mechanisms were among eight recommendations announced by the NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC) last month following a multi-agency investigation which found that billions of dollars of dirty money is being funnelled through the state’s pubs and clubs each year.
Perrotet said earlier this week that a cashless gaming card would help stop money laundering while also limiting problem gambling, but Landis told media he is opposed to the plan.
“You would solve crime in a heartbeat by locking everyone in their homes but we don’t allow it because we’re not a police state,” he said, as reported by The Guardian.
“In the same way, you don’t have restrictions on poker machines that treat everyone like they are criminals to try and stop criminals spending money.
“We have to have measures which are proportionate, affordable, sensible and target those who the bad guys.”
Landis also took a shot at opponents of the poker machine industry in general, stating, “Just because it’s not how you choose to spend your money, it doesn’t mean that [those who do] are somehow stupid for choosing to play a poker machine.”
The NSWCC investigation found that AU$95 billion is flowing through NSW pubs and clubs each year, more than any other Australian state, including billions in proceeds of crime.
It also identified a lack of awareness by club boards, hoteliers and their staff of their anti-money laundering responsibilities.
“It is a deeply concerning peculiarity that in the largely cashless digital economy in which we live that gambling in NSW pubs and clubs remains a AU$95 billion a year information black hole. Clearly, that cannot be allowed to continue,” said NSW Crime Commissioner Michael Barnes.
Premier Perrotet this week supported any move towards cashless gaming.
“We can’t sit idly by. Action needs to be taken … we need to move to a cashless system,” he said. “This is not about working against the industry. It’s all working together to make meaningful change to stop money laundering occurring in pokie machines, and ensuring that problem gamblers are not throwing their life savings down a pokie machine.”