Musos opts-in to cashless gaming

Broken Hill’s Musicians Club is one of 28 hotels and clubs across NSW to embrace a 12-month cashless gaming trial in a bid to stamp out money laundering and gambling harm.

Part of a gambling reform package the Labor Party took to March’s state election, the trial is designed to respond to a NSW Crime Commission report that was released in October last year that found criminals statewide were funnelling billions of dollars through poker machines with few controls.

Data from Liquor and Gaming NSW published in September found that $3.9 billion was lost to NSW pokies (hotels and clubs) in six months alone, from December 1, 2022, and May 31, 2023. The data also combines the Broken Hill, Wentworth, and the Unincorporated Far West LGA’s seven club’s 464 poker machines which presented a net profit of $14,214,634.

The same basis of the dataset also revealed the Musicians Club (with 103 poker machines) the top-ranking club in Broken Hill – and 186th of 1014 clubs statewide – by gaming machine net profit and 250th statewide by net profit per gaming machine in the same aforementioned time period.

Musicians Club General Manager Michael Boland said the reason he opted into the trial was so the club could be at the forefront of curbing illegal activity and to be able to give data back to the Independent Panel on Gaming Reform overseeing the trial.

“We want to be part of the solution. We want to make sure we’re looking after our members, but we also need to be able to trade and we provide community service,” he told the Barrier Truth.

“We want to be on the forefront of harm minimisation. The technology is good, it seems like it’s the way forward, and anything that will help get rid of a criminal element out of a club we’re all for.”

Mr Boland says the club has already had many people seek an interest in participating, with the trial requiring downloading an app after verifying the details of your ID with the club. Like a betting app, once data is verified and banking details are entered, patrons will be able to use the app to tap on and off playing the poker machines that will have the new technology fitted to them.

“Cash isn’t going anywhere yet. It’s 100 per cent voluntary and this is so we can get the technology right,” he said.

“It may seem a little bit, ‘what’s the difference between just putting cash in [the machine] versus [using the app]?’ The harm minimisation stuff, the research. They’ve trialled it at Newcastle already and it showed that punters or people that gamble are looking at their player activity statements more often.

“They have an understanding exactly what they’re gambling on because they have access to their actual data where right now, we’re still in that manual system where they have access to that data, but they have to go up, ask for it, print it out. This is all at the tap of a thumb on a phone.”

With hopes for half of the poker machines at the Musicians Club to be enabled with the new technology, Mr Boland says they’ll be working closely with their partner Aristocrat to progressively roll out the installation of the technology from January, with a view to be fully live by July.

“There will be other options for our people that aren’t so tech savvy out there – they’ll have access to what’s called cashless transfer gaming, which we already run at the club. This is basically getting the information out there to government to make sure the technology that’s chosen or used down the track is user-friendly,” Mr Boland says.

“It will support people that unfortunately develop a gambling problem and we can get them the help they need and it will give our members and people that enjoy a punt even more information on their betting habits at a fingertip, and provide resources if they want to seek help or lower their gambling.

“I’m hopeful it will roll out statewide, and I think it will. We can get the data. We can do it correctly, and we won’t see any of our community clubs close. We operate on our social licence. We understand that we do deal in gambling and alcohol, but we do add benefits to the community, and we want to be on the forefront of harm minimisation and the latest technology.

“If any members or anybody in the community [have] got any questions at all or want to know how it works, I’m more than happy to sit down and have a chat to them.”

If you or a loved one is experiencing harm from gambling, you can find support information on the GambleAware website by visiting Alternatively, you can speak to a counsellor 24 hours a day via the GambleAware Helpline on 1800 858 858. All counselling is confidential and free of charge and is available to both individuals and family members experiencing gambling harm.


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