A new research paper from Sydney University provides insights into the potential role of digital (cashless) payment methods in gambling as a key intervention point for gambling harm minimization. The research found that some users may be reluctant to adopt the technology due to concerns around privacy and fears it may in fact induce them to spend more.

In the study, twenty-six Australian EGM gamblers (10 females, 16 males; aged 24–76 years) participated in four online focus group discussions and were queried in relation to their perceptions as consumers about the benefits and risks of cashless gambling, factors potentially influencing uptake of cashless gambling, and recommendations about harm reduction features that could be incorporated into the system.

The research included very interesting points made by the participants including 1:

  • Cashless gambling was perceived to offer opportunities for more meaningful harm reduction measures due to the ability to track a user’s gambling activity.
  • Participants tending to perceive cashless gaming as being overly restrictive and invasive, and potentially facilitating (over)spending, depending on design and implementation.
  • Participants perceived that an account-based digital system with integrated harm reduction features could overcome critical deficiencies of existing systems – e.g., if integrated into a self-exclusion scheme and limiting the amount of money held in the account
  • Participants believed that linking a cashless account to an individual’s verified identity may be an important means of preventing money laundering.
  • Some saw a cashless system as an easy and convenient payment option because they “hardly use cash” and suggested that a cashless system would facilitate “a quicker process to gamble”.
  • The harm reduction features of greatest interest to gamblers were the ability to set personalized hard limits on their spending, and to receive regular statements providing a meaningful summary of their gambling activity.

The discussion section of the paper provided insights for policy makers in the implementation of cashless regulations and operational inclusions from a harm reduction perspective. These included the integration of loyalty systems into cashless accounts with non-gambling related rewards and addressing concerns about privacy and confidentiality.

The full research paper is available here.


  1. Swanton, T. B., Tsang, S., Collard, S. B., Garbarino, E., & Gainsbury, S. M. (2023, September 28). Cashless Gambling: Qualitative Analysis of Consumer Perspectives Regarding the Harm Minimization Potential of Digital Payment Systems for Electronic Gaming Machines. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Advance online publication.