Cashless ‘Pokies’ on Trial in New South Wales to Curb Slots Money Laundering

Posted on: July 18, 2022, 04:02h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2022, 11:46h.

The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is rolling out a trial of cashless slots gambling, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Officials want to see whether the measure can help reduce money laundering and problem gambling in the state.

cashles pokies
“Pokies” at a club in Sydney New South Wales, pictured above. There is currently nothing to prevent players from feeding $10,000 into the machines, gambling minimally, and receiving a credit slip in return. (Image: Newcastle Herald).

The 12-week trial will see gamblers opt-in for a digital wallet linked to their identity and personal bank account. They can transfer credit onto the machines from their mobile phones via Bluetooth.

The gambling industry supports the experiment and will be overseen by Australia’s global slots giant Aristocrat Gaming. NSW’s pubs and clubs, which host most of the state’s slot machines, have resisted the plan.

The news comes amid an investigation by the state’s most powerful criminal intelligence agency, the NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC), into the problem of slot machine money laundering in the non-gaming sector.

Lack of Oversight

There are 95,000 slot machines, or “pokies,” as they are known colloquially, in NSW. Most are stationed outside casinos, meaning they are not subject to the same stringent levels of oversight.

Australia has just 0.3% of the world’s population, but 17% of its non-gaming-venue pokies. It also has some of the highest problem gambling rates in the world.

The new e-wallets will enable players to set spending limits and receive real-time data on their spending.

NSW gaming regulator ILGA recently complained it did not have the powers to tackle the issue of money laundering in the non-gaming sector.

ILGA wants the pubs and clubs held to account. The organization’s chief investigator, David Byrne, told SMH in December that he believed at least A$1 billion (US$710 million) was being washed through slots at non-gaming venues nationwide.

Field Day for Criminals

Independent NSW MP Justin Field suggested there should be a cap on the amount players can feed into the machines and the amount of credit they can receive in return.

It is inexplicable why NSW poker machines can legally be loaded with up to $10,000 cash,” he told SMH. “These problems can be addressed very quickly with simple regulatory and legislative reform, like reducing the load limits and moving to cashless gaming.”

Credit limits for slots in non-gaming venues in other Australian states are much lower, $1,000 in Victoria and the Northern Territories and $100 in Queensland and South Australia.

In NSW, there is little to prevent crooks from inserting $5,000 in criminal proceeds into a machine. That’s before losing $5 and then cashing out a ticket for $4,995 credit. And there is nothing to stop them from repeatedly at different venues.