New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet has dubbed ClubsNSW’s new code of practice a last-minute attempt at preventing the government’s push for cashless gaming in the state.
On Monday, ClubsNSW — the body representing all pubs and clubs in the state — released an updated edition of its code of practice for all members, listing changes such as banning suspected criminals from venues, conducting welfare checks on pokies players, and appointing responsible gambling officers. The group plans to implement the new code from July this year.
ClubsNSW has released the new guidelines two months ahead of state elections which could lead to wide-ranging industry reforms. The updated code of practice makes no mention of cashless gaming cards.
The push for cashless gaming cards by Premier Perrottet came when a landmark report by the NSW Crime Commission revealed that billions of dollars in illicit money runs through the state’s poker machines. Since his announcement of the proposed policy, there has been both opposition to and support for the move, with ClubsNSW being the most vocal critics.
Josh Landis, CEO of ClubsNSW, believes the code will be effective in combating the gambling issues in the state, especially when combined with face-recognition technology.
“Unlike the proposed mandatory cashless card, the code is a cost-effective and targeted approach to gaming reform,” he said.
“Introducing facial recognition technology in clubs will ensure problem gamblers will be kept out of club gaming rooms and criminals won’t be able to step foot inside a club.”
According to Premier Perrottet, the updated code is not enough to effectively stamp out the issues in the NSW gaming industry.
“We need to do everything we can in relation to reducing problem gambling in NSW,” he said.
“This is a serious issue that needs a detailed and comprehensive response. We will respond to the crime commission report shortly and you’ll see the detail in it.”
Recently, the NSW Labor Party — opposition to Premier Perrottet’s government — revealed its own plans for gambling reform in NSW. A cornerstone of that policy is a pledge to conduct further testing on cashless gaming before deciding whether or not to implement the system statewide.
ClubsNSW’s new code of practice has been met with skepticism by anti-gaming activists who see it as a means of whitewashing the issue of problem gambling. The chief advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, called it a “long confessional note” revealing where the body has failed.
“This was clearly designed to stave off what they fear most – a cashless card,” he said.
“They have completely failed to even implement the weak regulation to protect problem gamblers in the past and now, like an electoral deathbed conversion, they’ve discovered they should be getting rid of laundering, kids left at machines and people playing too long.”