NSW to Implement Landmark Reforms: All Poker Machines to be Cashless by 2028

It’s no secret that the Australian authorities have been trying to overhaul the online and land-based gambling environment in the country for quite some time. However, recent years brought multiple reforms that seem to lead the entire initiative in the right direction. The latest move from the New South Wales Liberal and Nationals Government is to switch all pokies to a cashless system by 2028. The major goal of going cashless is to prevent money laundering and to safeguard vulnerable people from the dangers of problem gambling.

Will it, however, be successful? That’s what we’ll look at in the next sections. Whether you’re into gambling and want to learn more about this bold move or you simply want to get a better idea of the Australian gaming landscape, keep reading to get valuable information.

One of the Biggest Moves in Gambling Reforms for Australia

Even though the authorities have been in the process of reshaping the gambling industry for several years, this is the first bold move made by the NCOSS. The expectations are that the package of measures intended to switch to cashless pokies by 2028 will support clubs and pubs to reach the target. 

Furthermore, there are plans to continue offering support for community organizations, diversification into new areas of business, and extended support to guarantee the viability of small, regional venues. These measures, which do not affect online pokie providers for the time being, aim to include several features that will cut problem gambling. Among the changes to be implemented, we have mandatory cooling-off periods and self-imposed limitations. There will also be breaks in play, a reality check tracker, and prohibiting transferring funds from credit cards. 

Other changes talk about self-exclusions and third-party exclusions becoming a reality. Furthermore, there are plans to prohibit VIP Lounge signage and political donations from clubs and pubs. Indeed, it really looks like the Aussie lawmakers thought of everything in this ambitious and elaborate plan to remove cash transactions from pokies.

Establishment of an Independent Transition Taskforce

Besides other measures to help transition toward cashless pokies, the authorities also decided that a Transition TAskforce will be established. It will be run by the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, so right at the top. This new authority will also include members from vital government agencies, industry representatives, and experts in harm minimization. 

The plan is for the Taskforce to start functioning from April 2023, and they’re expected to provide a roadmap for state-wide cashless pokies by 2028. The first real steps toward obtaining these goals should start early in 2024. 

Steps to be Taken During the Process

The authorities put together clear steps to be followed during the process to To demonstrate their commitment to the transition to cashless pokies in Australia. There are several things to take into consideration from various points of view like harm minimization, cashless transition, support for communities, and money laundering measures. Here are some of the most important aspects mentioned by the authorities by category. 

Transitioning to Cashless Pokies

  • Supporting all eight recommendations coming from the NSW Crime Commissioner to get rid of money laundering in clubs and pubs;
  • Introducing mandatory cashless pokies across the state by 31 December 2028 at the latest;
  • Protecting the economic viability of all venues in NSW, especially in border communities and regional areas;
  • Providing support for community organizations via grants and other programs;
  • Imposing strict privacy protection systems for player data, without industry of government access to player data (only the law enforcement agencies can access the player data);
  • All new pokies purchased after the rollout starts to be cashless;
  • Introducing a boy-back scheme to help acquire over 2,000 existing machines from venues over the following 5 years;
  • Banning donations towards political organizations from clubs and pubs;

Harm Minimization:

  • Players will have to impose gambling limits that stay in place for 7 days no matter if they have a change of heart;
  • Implement the ability to self-exclude, reality check systems, and breaks in play;
  • Allow family members to exclude players with a gambling problem;
  • Set up a state-wide self-exclusion register;
  • Ban credit cards top-ups and the use of VIP lounge signage

Support for Local Communities, Pubs, and Clubs:

  • Small and medium-sized clubs and pubs will be able to access interest-free loans to support the cost of transitioning toward cashless pokies;
  • A grant that goes up to $50,000 allows small and medium clubs and pubs to pursue new revenue streams through the diversification of services;
  • A regional fund of $40 million to support the transfer to cashless technology;

Could This Move Prove to be Too Bold?

Given previous efforts to transform the gaming environment in Australia, some may believe that the new plan is too large to carry out. Nevertheless, unlike prior attempts to control the gaming business, this one comes with a well-thought-out plan and action steps. Furthermore, it approaches the problem from a variety of angles, not solely from the gaming industry. That is the first time this has happened since the government began the lengthy process of reforming the way gambling is conducted in the country.

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