NSW Announces Cashless Pokie Trial


On Monday, it was announced that a cashless pokie trial will be coming to New South Wales in September. The trial will be conducted by Aristocrat Gaming and is scheduled to take place at West Leagues Club in Newcastle. The cashless option will extend to all club services, from pokies to snacks.

If the trial proves successful, then cashless options are likely to become the new normal across NSW. Other states are watching with great interest, as they also consider going the cashless route.

Why Go Cashless?

The idea of cashless pokies has been kicked around for a while, but lately it’s moved into high gear. This can be attributed to the Crown Resorts scandal, especially the part related to money laundering. The wellness of customers is also a concern for venues, as stories of player suicide and bankruptcy bring a lot of negative publicity.

How the Trial Works

If you live in Newcastle or plan on gambling there later in the year, here’s what you can expect:

  • The cashless option applies to all club games and services.
  • In order to play, you’ll need to complete a 100-point ID check and link your digital wallet to an Australian bank account.
  • Players can set limits on both time and money.
  • Customers can choose to exclude themselves from the venue, as well as speak to a member of the staff.
  • Marshals will receive real-time messages to alert them to players with a potential problem.

Lots of Positive Reaction

So far, the reaction has been positive. Here are some of the more notable quotes about the upcoming trial:

  • “Aristocrat believes that enabling cashless payment solutions is an innovation that may help enhance the long-term sustainability and vibrancy of our industry.” (Aristocrat CEO Mitchell Bowen)
  • “It will help us combat the twin sins of money laundering and problem gambling, addressing the key concerns of the Bergin Inquiry.” (NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello)
  • “A powerful new suite of responsible digital tools will empower our members and allow them to set limits, speak to a staff member, or even exclude themselves from the club. The ability for our members to use their own mobile wallet to pay for a meal, membership and gaming is something our industry hasn’t seen before.” (The Wests Group Australia CEO Philip Gardner)

The Importance of Friction

The academic community has also decided to chime in on the impending trial, specifically Dr. Sally Gainsbury, an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. According to her, the trial is critical to providing additional data for a little-researched area. However, it can still result in failure, especially if the technology doesn’t provide enough “friction.”

“Obviously, if you make it so you can stand at a machine, tap your credit card or bank account straight to it and just keep piling money onto it, and just keep putting that straight into the machine, there is a very high risk [of harm].

“Because we know from consumer research that digital payments do increase expenditure and reduce awareness of how much they’re spending. So the system has to be designed where it has at least as much friction as actual cash, and ideally more so.”

Two examples of friction are time and geolocation limits. This means that players would need to wait a specified amount of time or leave the venue entirely before being able to risk more money. Dr. Gainsbury also touted the idea of monthly progress reports being sent to punters.

Meanwhile in the ACT

The ACT government is keeping a close eye on the situation. In fact, they’ve set up a new ministerial advisory council comprised of club reps and gambling reform advocates. The objective: to determine if cashless gaming would work in the Bush Capital.

This is only part of the coming gambling reforms throughout the territory. Some of the more notable proposed changes include $100 load-up limits, $5 bet limits, and an overall reduction of pokies.

Additional Reading

For more news and information about gambling, please see the following articles: