Sunday, 29 Jan 2023

NSW eyes voluntary gambling cards as minister blasts pokies venues as bloated concrete bunkers

NSW eyes voluntary gambling cards as minister blasts pokies venues as bloated concrete bunkers


NSW eyes voluntary gambling cards as minister blasts pokies venues as bloated concrete bunkers

A significantly expanded voluntary trial of cashless gambling cards is firming as the most likely response to a scathing New South Wales Crime Commission report, which found only a mandatory scheme would be effective in combating money laundering in the state's pubs and clubs.

As pressure mounts on the government to tackle gambling reform in the lead-up to the March election, a senior government minister, Rob Stokes, upped the ante with a blistering speech on Wednesday night, saying the state's clubs have been "distorted and disfigured" by their reliance on poker machine revenue. He called for a ban on "gambling advertising that programs young people to a lifetime of addiction".

Citing figures showing revenue reached $3.8bn in the first half of this year, Stokes, the retiring planning minister, said poker machine gambling had become such a lucrative "cash cow" for the clubs lobby that its "social agenda" had been "subordinated to commercial interests".

"The comforting stereotype of a suburban bowlo nestled in a quiet street under the gum trees is far from the reality of many contemporary clubs, which are bloated concrete bunkers separated from their community by vast, treeless car parks," he said.

"Outwardly they are brutal, unwelcoming junk spaces that all look the same; inwardly they are a fairyland of lights and delights, all directed to deprive the vulnerable of their savings.

"If a cashless gaming card can help liberate a few people from their enslavement to poker machines, then it is the least we can do for the people of New South Wales."

Stokes' intervention comes as the premier, Dominic Perrottet, moves to quell both a push from anti-gambling advocates for reform on one side, and resistance to reform from the powerful clubs lobby and his Nationals counterparts on the other.

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