All pokies in NSW would become cashless by 2028 if the Coalition is re-elected in March, Premier Dominic Perrottet has revealed.
Political donations from pubs and clubs around the state would also be banned under the government’s gambling reform blueprint, which was made public today.
Mr Perrottet said the policy would allow players to “set their own limits” on poker machines, which they wouldn’t be able to change for seven days.
“We’ve had people throw their life savings down poker machines and that has to change,” he said, while reiterating his continued support for the state’s pubs and clubs.
“For generations to come, we will not have money laundering and we will not have family breakdown due to problem gambling in this state.”
The government says the $344 million policy is a direct response of a report by the NSW Crime Commission that found poker machines across the state were being used to wash “dirty cash”.
NSW Crime Commissioner Michael Barnes said he welcomed the government’s response.
The policy will legislate breaks for players and allow loved ones to apply for somebody to be barred from pokies if they’re displaying problem gambling behaviour.
A state-wide exclusion register would also be created.
As part of the changes, the government would provide no-interest loans for small and medium venues to assist them in rolling out the cashless technology, and an “optional buyback” to acquire 2,000 machines from venues over the next five years.
It also includes one-off $50,000 “diversification” grant for pubs and clubs to invest in new income streams such as live music.
Regional venues would also be able to access a $40 million grant to help with the transition.
Mr Perrottet acknowledged it would be a “difficult transition” for the industry.
“The discussions I’ve had with the industry have been incredibly constructive,” he said.
“I’ll work to ensure no-one is left behind, that no jobs are lost.”
ClubsNSW said it was concerned about the “significant costs and technical challenges” associated with the government’s plan.
“We’re particularly concerned about the implications for small, regional clubs and the impact this will have on jobs across the industry,” it said in a statement.
Opposition Leader, Chris Minns, welcomed the government’s announcement, saying people on all sides of politics wanted action on problem gambling.
Mr Minns told a press conference that “some elements” of the government’s policy reform “were announced by Labor … several weeks ago”.
“They include third-party exclusions for family members … a ban on advertising outside pubs and clubs … and of course political donation bans for clubs in New South Wales,” he said.
Mr Minns said Labor would adopt the policy to buyback 2,000 machines.
Last month, the NSW opposition promised a trial of cashless gaming that would run for 12 months from July 1 if it wins the state election.
The trial would include at least 500 machines in both high-use metro areas and the regions.
“If the evidence comes in and it works, we’ll adopt it,” Mr Minns said today.
John Green, from the Australian Hotels Association, said he was disappointed there was a proposed start date for rolling out cashless pokies before trials have been finished.