NSW politicians are caught between the hospitality industry and a recommendation to introduce mandatory cashless gambling resulting from a money laundering investigation.
“Laundering” money, unlike gambling, is obviously illegal. Companies do not advertise its merits in newspapers or on TV, not even with warnings to “wash responsibly”.
However, efforts to limit or even manage the impact of money laundering are not universally supported.
Some proposals made by the NSW Crime Commission last week were supported by pubs and clubs, but its recommendation for a mandatory cashless system was not welcomed.
A commission investigation has found evidence that drug dealers are using illicit profits to gamble, which is not money laundering but illegal, and some sites are not doing enough to discourage it.
Slot machines are one of the last havens for criminals, according to commission head Michael Barnes. Although the scale of the problem is unclear, he says it involves billions of dollars and a tougher line is needed.
ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis told AAP that the hospitality industry has been singled out for the matter.
“Everyone knows that criminals are spending money in the economy on cars, jewelry, clothes … they don’t recommend the mandatory cashless approach for other purchases,” he said.
“They identified a utopian approach to focus on criminal behavior that is disproportionate to the identified risk and would have a disproportionate impact on law-abiding citizens.”
Industry groups representing thousands of site owners are sensitive to proposed changes to the laws governing slot machines, as explained on the NSW government’s GambleAware website.
“The poker machines are there to make money for the room owners, not to offer players winnings,” he says.
Neither Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet nor Opposition Leader Chris Minns pledged not to use cash for gambling, but they pledged to work with the industry.
Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has announced plans to introduce the concept in 2020, but they have stalled and he is no longer in charge of the portfolio area.
Three dozen machines are being tested in Newcastle using technology from slot maker Aristocrat, which allows people to load money into machines from a digital wallet onto their phone.
Like other programs, including one that starts in Tasmania, the focus is on problem gamblers.
Three other manufacturers have been approved for cashless technology and another application is being evaluated.
“The trials will explore different technologies and solutions to enable cashless gambling in NSW and will test important harm minimization measures that will help people gain better control over their gambling,” said the minister. hospitality. and Corse, Kevin Anderson.
Mr. Landis said the process should be concluded so that its findings can be reviewed.
“The reason we are testing this is because the law does not allow payments on poker machines other than cash. The government has to change the law, “she said.
ClubsNSW would support digital payments, such as with a debit card or smartphone, requiring people to have already deposited clean, traceable money with a bank.
Mrs Landis said they had been asking for it for years, but she preferred it to be optional.
However, the Crime Commission says the options defeat the purpose, as criminals will simply choose the money.
The Australian Hotels Association will not answer specific questions about implementing digital payments. Instead, liquor and police director John Green told AAP that he was focusing on “measures that will actually work”.
The Crime Commission has reported that money laundering through slot machines is high-risk, inefficient and not widespread.
Mr. Landis suggested that the authorities were under pressure to do “something” and chose “something” thanks to the cashless recommendation.
“The best approach is to say ‘how can we address this measure?'” He said.
“We are not saying do nothing. Do something that makes sense, that is proportionate and effective “.
Forcing everyone to use a cashless card wouldn’t be, he said.