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NSW clubs to introduce gambling code

Sports betting and gambling on poker machines have recovered the fastest post-COVID restrictions.

Sports betting and gambling on poker machines have recovered the fastest post-COVID restrictions. Photo: Getty

With gambling shaping up as a contentious issue in the NSW election, the industry has released a code of conduct promising to ban suspected criminals.

ClubsNSW is resisting the push for mandatory cashless gaming cards, saying there is no evidence they will address problem gambling.

Its gaming code of practice released on Monday includes welfare checks on poker machine players at least every three hours and measures to ban problem gamblers from venues.

Under the code, to take effect from July, club staff would be trained to identify key problem gambling indicators, while every club would have a responsible gambling officer.

“In the event that a player shows any level of distress or hardship, they will need to take a break from gambling for at least 24 hours,” the industry body said in a statement.

Problem gambling has become a hot-button issue ahead of the state election in March as the latest data shows gamblers losing almost $1 million every hour on NSW pokies.

Political parties have been under pressure to introduce cashless gaming for poker machines after a NSW Crime Commission report released last year found billions of dollars in dirty cash was being laundered through the machines every year.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has promised to introduce a statewide mandatory cashless gaming card but is yet to release details, while Labor says it will cut the number of poker machines and introduce a cashless gaming trial on 500 of the state’s 90,000 machines.

ClubsNSW says under its code patrons seeking credit for gambling, borrowing money from other patrons or who admitting to stealing money to gamble would be offered counselling and automatically barred from gaming rooms.

The code will allow family members to request an exclusion for loved-ones who they believe are experiencing gambling harm, with an expert gambling counsellor to determine whether a ban is appropriate.

ClubsNSW chief executive Josh Landis said the code was the most effective way to protect problem gamblers while also keeping criminal activity out of clubs.

“Clubs have always been the safest places to gamble and they are about to become even safer thanks to this landmark code of practice,” he said.

The code includes lifetime bans for suspected money-launderers.

Suspicious money-laundering behaviour includes offering to buy a winning gaming machine ticket from someone, loaning a person money to play a gaming machine or regularly depositing large amounts of money into a gaming machine and cashing it out without playing.

“The industry is committed to assisting law enforcement identify those in clubs who may have engaged in spending the proceeds of criminal activity,” Mr Landis said.

Unlike the proposed mandatory cashless card, the code was a cost-effective and targeted approach to gaming reform, he said.

“Introducing facial recognition technology in clubs will ensure problem gamblers will be kept out of club gaming rooms and criminals won’t be able to step foot inside a club anywhere in NSW.”

– AAP

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