New South Wales Fights Money Laundering with Its First Cashless Poker Machines

Wests Group’s Newcastle club will trial the newest initiative to introduce cashless gaming machines in Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) province. The program will begin next month and will encompass several hundred players. It will introduce a specialized digital wallet that will help with player protection and prevent money laundering.

The idea for cashless gaming machines has been under consideration for over a year and is finally entering its trial stage. The new technology will be implemented on 38 gaming machines by technology company and mobile games publisher Aristocrat Leisure. It will affect roughly 300 patrons. According to NSW’s Hospitality and Racing Minister Kevin Anderson, slots manufacturers Utopia Gaming and IGT had also expressed interest, with two more applicants currently under consideration.

The trials will explore different technologies and solutions with the common goal of addressing harm minimization and anti-money laundering.

Kevin Anderson, New South Wales Minister for Hospitality and Racing

The New System Will Encourage Responsible Gaming

The new cashless technology will run a 12-week trial. Guests at Wests Newcastle will have to link their phones to the machine via Bluetooth and directly transfer funds. Paying via a digital wallet will also allow for better responsible gaming measures. The technology will force players to leave the gaming area to top up their accounts, reducing spontaneous bets. Other potential measures include stricter money and time limits. According to Anderson, payment apps would pass strict scrutiny and would be modified as necessary to fit this new use.

Stu Cameron, CEO of welfare organization Wesley Mission, exclaimed that shifting towards cashless poker machines would help reduce problem gambling and severely hamper money laundering attempts. She expressed the organization’s support for all gambling harm mitigation measures. Cameron noted that cashless gambling could be a powerful tool if properly regulated.

Eliminating Money Laundering Is a Key Concern

The main goal of cashless payments is the elimination of money laundering. The NSW Crime Commission’s recent investigations revealed that gambling establishments got routinely used to launder money acquired from criminal activity. Legal loopholes, a lack of ticket transparency, an unreasonably large credit limits made the process quick and easy.

The commission’s recently published paper demonstrated that an individual could deposit $5000 obtained via illegal means, bet $5 and walk out with a clean $4995. The ticket would only display accumulated credits and completely obscure the starting amount. The procedure would be repeated at several other establishments, allowing criminals to launder significant sums.

Justin Field, independent NSW MP, likened poker machines to “ATMs for money laundering.” He noted that a quick fix would be to reduce load limits and encourage cashless payments.

It is inexplicable why NSW poker machines can legally be loaded with up to $10,000 cash.

Justin Field, New South Wales MP

Anti-gambling advocates have welcomed the introduction of cashless gaming but warned that it would need to cover the majority of the state’s 95,000 electronic slot machines for the measure to have any noticeable effect on organized crime and harm prevention.

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