NSW Labor will ban all political donations from clubs with pokie machines and implement a cashless gaming card trial, if the party is elected at the state election.
Opposition leader Chris Minns on Monday said Labor will also slash the number of pokies in the state and ban all external “VIP Lounge” signage outside pubs and clubs.
Mr Minns said existing legislation that bans political donations from pubs with gaming machines will be expanded to clubs if the party wins power on March 25.
The election policy package comes after Labor faced fierce criticism from anti-gambling campaigners for refusing to back the Perrottet government’s push to introduce cashless gaming across NSW.
Speaking with Englishheadline Australia’s Andrew Clennell on Monday, Mr Minns said the party is adopting an “evidence-based approach” to tackle problem gambling and money laundering in NSW pubs and clubs.
“We’ve made a point for the last two months that we would have a comprehensive plan to take to the next election, for voters to make a decision about who has the best plan for problem gaming, as well as illicit behaviour in the gaming institutions across New South Wales,” Mr Minns said.
“We’ve released that plan, it’s evidence-based, it’s comprehensive and its fully supported by the NSW Shadow Cabinet in a unanimous way.”
Under Labor’s reforms, a 12-month cashless gaming trial will be rolled out for 500-machines in regional and metro NSW from July 1.
The trial will be overseen by an independent body made up of representatives from law enforcement as well as gambling and health experts, and be partly funded by the $100 million fine issued to Star Casino.
Mr Minns said the trial was critical in determining how pubs and clubs could afford the cashless technology without impacting the industry’s 127,000-strong workforce.
“We have consulted with the industry, the pubs and clubs industry… we’ve consulted with problem gaming associations and organisations as well over the last week to make sure we’re getting their input,” Mr Minns said.
“I don’t expect either side of this debate to be thrilled with Labor’s plan but we think it’s fair, we think it’s tough, we think that in addition to the trial the immediate measures that we will take will make a big difference to problem gaming in NSW.”
Labor will also reduce the cash input for new pokie machines from $5,000 to $500, a measure which Mr Minns said will mostly target money laundering.
Should it win the election, Labor will reduce the number of pokies across the state by making changes to the way venues trade gaming machines.
Currently, any pub or club seeking more gaming machines must acquire them from another venue, with each transaction attracting a forfeiture of one machine for every three traded.
Labor’s policy would seek to raise the forfeiture ratio to every second machine traded.
The Coalition is set to announce major reforms to the state’s gaming industry, as Dominic Perrottet seeks to put his re-election campaign back on course following revelations over his 21st birthday Nazi costume and speculation of factional infighting.
The Premier’s crackdown on the sector comes in response to the NSW Crime Commission’s report which highlighted the serious criminal consequences of pokie machines.
The commission’s report found criminal organisations had used pokie machines to money launder as much as $95 billion in 2020-21.
On Monday, Mr Perrottet made one of his clearest statements yet on the issue, declaring: “There should be no ambiguity here; we are going to cashless pokie machines”.
“There’s a reason why these challenges are more substantive in New South Wales than anywhere else and that was because of the decisions of the previous Labor government,” he said.