NSW Cashless Gaming Card Scrapped


Over the last few years, it appeared that pokie venues in NSW might soon be required to implement cashless gaming card technology. Well, the opposition can breathe a sigh of relief, as the plan has been unofficially scrapped.

Cashless Card Proposal

Victor Dominello, the current NSW Minister for Customer Service, proposed mandatory cashless gaming cards back in 2020. The purpose of the card was to reduce problem gambling, as well as combat rampant money laundering in pubs and clubs.

Under this plan, all pokies would’ve required the player to insert their card before gambling. In addition, players would’ve had to register in order to activate the cards. Lastly, the customer would have been required to pre-load money onto the card.


When Mr. Dominello originally made his proposal, the usual suspects came forward to support the idea. I’m talking about everyone from anti-gambling advocates like Tim Costello to those who personally suffered the effects of gambling addiction.

Later, former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin suggested that such cards would be helpful in fighting money laundering. If Ms. Bergin’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she was the individual appointed by Mr. Dominello to head the inquiry into Crown Resorts.

The Opposition

David Elliott, who currently serves as NSW Minister of Transport, was one of the most vocal critics of the proposal. He described it as an invasion of privacy, especially in the case of casual gamblers. As for the card, Elliott said that he didn’t want to see “old ladies who put $20 in the pokies after bingo forced to have one.”

It should also come as no surprise that Clubs NSW was opposed to the idea. Their point of contention was a financial one, arguing that it would cost their industry $1.8 billion.

Newcastle Trial

In order to test out the feasibility of a cashless system, NSW decided to conduct a trial run. It started in September of 2021, thanks to a partnership between Wests Newcastle and Aristocrat Gaming.

During this period, patrons were able to use cashless technology to pay for all club games and services. A premium was also placed on responsible gaming measures, including session time limits and money limits. Information on player habits and losses were sent in real-time to both players and marshals.

Aussie politician Victor Dominello

Prior to the start of the trial run, Dominello stated “I support this digital proposal as it is linked to identity, a bank account and with harm minimisation settings. This will help us combat the twin sins of money laundering and problem gambling, addressing the key concerns of the Bergin inquiry.”

Phil Gardner, the CEO of Wests Newcastle, was also excited. According to him, “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.”

End of the Road

Despite the progress mentioned above, it appears that the cashless system is no longer on the table. There’s been no public announcement just yet, but a number of sources have spoken under the condition of anonymity.

The major reason for the change is that Mr. Dominello took on a new position following a 2021 reshuffling of the NSW government. Kevin Anderson is now the man in charge, holding the title of Minister for Hospitality and Racing.

Anderson has stated that he does not support the cashless card, especially if it’s mandatory or under government control. He is, however, willing to support digital payments, but only if customers are able to opt in.

Anderson’s comments have drawn the ire of some fellow politicians. MP Justin Field, for example, referred to the opt-in idea as “fanciful nonsense” that would “keep the door open to money laundering.”

Despite this, the Newcastle trial is still underway. Anderson promised to wait for the results before making any concrete decisions. Whether he can keep his word still remains to be seen.