NSW has been dubbed the gambling capital of Australia with $95 billion in cash flowing through poker machines each year.
Over 40 per cent of this revenue comes from problem gamblers who make up less than 2 per cent of those who gamble.
Clearly some action is needed to prevent devastating consequences for these people and their families.
The NSW Government has already committed to introducing a compulsory cashless gaming card. This would mean that instead of loading cash straight into a machine you’ll first have to put that money onto a card.
A cashless gambling card will soon roll out in Tasmania. This card includes default spending limits of $100 a day, $500 a month and $5,000 a year that can be lowered or increased in certain cases.
Any further information on the NSW Government’s plan, including any spending limits, are yet to be announced.
This move is supported by the NSW Crime Commission. They recommended cashless gaming as part of a recent inquiry into money laundering through gaming machines.
Unions NSW say pokies reform should be a “no-brainer” with the sums of money workers are losing through the machines.
NSW Greens and key independents are also in support of this policy. Although they’re hoping to see even stricter rules, such as spending limits, as more information is released.
And with all the harm problem gambling causes, CPSA is in full support of a cashless gambling card.
NSW Labor has released their full policy on the issue and while it is a start, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Their plan is for a mandatory trial of a cashless gambling card for 500 poker machines across the state.
But trials of cashless cards with voluntary spending limits in Queensland and South Australia have already found that these cards encouraged gamblers to be more aware of their spending. Committing to spending limits decreased the risk of harm to gamblers.
The trials have been done, now it’s time for action.
NSW Labor also plans to reduce feed-in limits, or the amount you can load up onto a machine at a time, from $5,000 down to $500, even though there’s no evidence that this will have any real impact on problem gambling. They also plan to ban advertising for poker machines outside of venues and introduce responsible gambling officers.
Intervention is vital for the 20 per cent of NSW gamblers described as ‘risk’ or ‘problem’ gamblers. They face losing more money than they can afford, damaging their relationships and potentially suffering catastrophic losses, like their home or life savings.
It is CPSA’s policy to “actively campaign on harm reduction strategies on poker machine gambling” and rolling out a cashless gambling card in NSW is the first step.