NSW Labor refusing to commit to a cashless gambling card despite Crime Commission’s proposal
After the NSW Crime Commission released a report this week calling for the introduction of a cashless gaming card in the Australian state, Labor leader Chris Minns has expressed his refusal to back this plan despite pressure from cross-bench MPs.
The Commission’s report found a “significant amount of money” put through poker machines is the proceeds of crime including drug dollars. As a consequence, it called for the introduction of cashless gaming cards, among other reforms.
Premier Dominic Perrottet has agreed to consider the proposal. However, he has sided with Minns and they have both stated they will consult closely with the industry about the gaming card. ClubsNSW, a lobby group representing registered clubs, has previously claimed the technology would cost thousands of jobs and AUD 1.8 billion to roll out.
The independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich, intended to force the hands of major parties by introducing amendments to a bill that formalized the use of facial recognition technology in clubs and pubs. The move, which will have the backing of key crossbenchers Greg Piper and Joe McGirr, was refused support by Minns Friday.
These proposed changes pose a “political headache” for the government as it does not have enough seats in the lower house to pass legislation on its own, leaving the three independents critical to the Coalition.
As reported by The Guardian, the Labor leader stated the Crime Commission report called for “far-reaching reforms.” He pointed out that “there are implications as a result of those reforms. But we’re open-minded about it”.
However, given the complexity of it, “we need to make sure and look at what people are putting on the table before I give blanket support for a proposal I haven’t seen”, he noted.
Minns pointed to the lobby’s claim that the proposal would be cost-prohibitive, and said there was “obviously a disagreement” between ClubsNSW and the commission. “It’s difficult for the New South Wales opposition to navigate through that difference of opinion or that difference of fact,” he noted.
The recommendation for the implementation of a cashless gambling card was made by Patricia Bergin, after her investigation into Crown casino. It is thought to be “a harm minimization tool for problem gamblers”, and the means to combat criminal money laundering in the sector.
This week’s Crime Commission report into money laundering in clubs and pubs said the card would help combat an AUD 95 billion-a-year information black hole. The proposal comes as the government ruled out allowing clubs to use facial recognition technology to enforce bans on patrons kicked out of the clubs for abusing alcohol or being disorderly.
Greenwich said cashless cards were being rolled out in casinos and it was “critical” that pubs and clubs did not become the default venues to wash dirty cash. “The last thing we want is for the adoption of cashless gaming cards in casinos to shift more money laundering and problem gamblers to pubs and clubs. I’ll move to ensure cashless cards are adopted across the board in NSW,” he stated as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
He also noted he does not deem facial recognition to be a harm-minimization tool. “It has been used in other countries to encourage gambling and reap profits from patrons without their consent,” he pointed out.
This criterion is not exclusive to Greenwich, as the Greens’ spokeswoman for gambling Cate Faehrmann also stated she will move an amendment to ban the use of technology at all venues. “ClubsNSW and the AHA are hailing facial recognition technology as a major step towards minimizing gambling harm. In reality, they’ll do anything to avoid regulations that stop people from gambling so much,” she said.