In Australia and a controversial proposal that would require video poker machine players in the state of New South Wales to use government-issued gambling cards has reportedly gained support from a prominent local politician.
According to a Saturday report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, Victor Dominello serves as Customer Service Minister for New South Wales and has become the latest to throw his weight behind the cashless proposition that would oblige resident punters wanting to enjoy video poker machine entertainment to first register and pre-load funds onto one of the cards.
The newspaper reported that Dominello currently has responsibility for gambling in Australia’s most populous state and believes that the new cards could be managed much the same way as those already utilized by the Opal public transport network. The 53-year-old also detailed that the system should be overseen by the independent Information and Privacy Commission and be electronically linked to the jurisdiction’s self-exclusion register for problem gamblers.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that New South Wales is currently home to approximately 95,000 video poker machines, which are colloquially known locally as ‘pokies’, that account for around 100,000 jobs and regularly bring in some $718 million in annual taxes. However, the newspaper purportedly explained that statewide expenditure on the units grew by 12% year-on-year between June and August as punters sought new forms of entertainment during the nation’s coronavirus-related lockdown.
Dominello reportedly voiced his support for the cashless ‘pokies’ scheme only a week after releasing draft legislation that would implement a series of new measures intended to help reduce gambling-related harm across New South Wales. This latter decree purportedly did not mention the card scheme but did suggest that local venues be obliged to utilize facial recognition technology so as to assist in the identification of problem gamblers.
The newspaper reported that Dominello’s draft legislation, which is now due to be put out for public consultation, additionally contains a provision that would allow family members to officially request pubs and clubs ban their loved ones from being allowed to access video poker machine entertainment. The Liberal Party politician purportedly furthermore proclaimed that New South Wales has recently earned the unenviable title of the ‘poker machine capital of Australia’ and that his measures would help to bring the local gambling industry into the 21st Century.
Dominello reportedly told The Sydney Morning Herald…
“Coronavirus has shown us how businesses can quickly adapt their practices when confronted with new realities like social distancing or the need for QR codes to assist contact tracing. Video poker machine addiction is an old reality and we have the technological solution to help, which is what we must do when someone asks for it because it’s destroying their life.”