Call for cashless gambling


Elsie Lange

The state government is facing pressure from advocates who say cashless cards for electronic gaming machines (EGMs) would benefit people in “vulnerable” areas, like the north and west of Melbourne.

The push from the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) follows an announcement from New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet that all pubs and clubs in the state must introduce cashless gaming systems across all poker machines by 2028.

In December , Hume residents spent more than $12 million on pokies, up on the prior two months by at least $470,000. In Sunbury, more than $11.5 million was lost on EGMs across six clubs between July and December last year.

The NSW cashless system would allow punters to set their own gambling limits – and not change that limit more than once a week..

In Victoria, cashless EGMs have been implemented at Crown Casino, but those machines only account for about 10 per cent of the state’s total poker machines.

AGR spokesman Reverend Tim Costello said introducing universally cashless pokies would be far easier in Victoria than in NSW because of the interconnected YourPlay system, and would benefit vulnerable areas where he said a higher percentage of the population play EGMs.

Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health (SCCH) provide gambling support and welcomed any reform to EGM use that would help people experiencing gambling harm, but stressed that the causes of the high rates of gambling need to be explored.

“Whilst we endorse government intervention to limit the impact of gambling, the initiative doesn’t address the underlying causality,” SCCH community mental health manager Adam Stefano said.

Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Melissa Horne said the government had overhauled how it regulated the gambling industry with the new Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission.

The commission has oversight of all gambling activities in the state from pubs and clubs to the casino, with harm minimisation a central part of its focus.

“We will continue to monitor the harm minimisation arrangements for hotels and clubs across the state to ensure we have the appropriate regulatory settings and reserve the right to make further changes,” Ms Horne said.