In an effort to combat money laundering and problem gambling, the premier of Australia’s most populous state unveiled a plan on Monday to make all poker (slot) machines cashless within five years.
The government of New South Wales (NSW), led by Premier Dominic Perrottet, has claimed to eliminate cash from all poker (slot) machines by 2028 and to provide interest-free loans to bars and clubs for the purchase of new, cashless slot machines that would only accept bets from bank accounts.
Outside of Nevada, the NSW poker or slot machine sector has the most number of “pokies,” as they are known in Australia, and the state’s strong pubs and clubs lobby is reported to have a large amount of influence on political figures.
Perrottet claimed that in his former position as the state treasurer he had felt uncomfortable “profiting off other people’s pain” by levying taxes on poker machines. Perrottet said his new plan “solves problem gambling, solves money laundering, and safeguards employment and industries,” according to Reuters.
According to think tank The Australia Institute, the country, which has a population of 25 million, is home to nearly one-fifth of the one million legal poker or slot machines in the world while NSW alone has half of Australia’s poker machines.
The investigations for casino operators failing to stop money laundering and problem gambling started back in 2020 and have since revealed numerous instances of the same. The gambing industry’s influence over NSW politics, as a result, has come under scrutiny.
In order to make it more difficult for criminals to use poker machines to launder money, the government said its plan would allow people to set a limit on how much they may spend on a machine and would only allow them to bet with money from a bank account.
Meanwhile, instead of fully supporting the proposal, the center-left Labor state opposition has simply stated that it would only support a limited trial of the policy for now.