- NSW political parties will be barred from accepting donations from clubs with pokie machines
- Clubs engaged in gambling activities will be considered as “prohibited donors”
- Labor promised to enforce the ban in the lead-up to the March elections
Venues in New South Wales (NSW), Australia that offer pokie machines could be banned from making political donations under proposed amendments to the state’s Electoral Funding Act.
Under proposals put forward this week, clubs with pokie machines would be treated as “prohibited donors” putting them in the same category as property developers, alcohol and tobacco businesses and gambling firms.
Pokie Machine Reform Long-Overdue
Pokie machine reform in NSW had been one of the most widely-debated issues in the lead-up to the March elections. The Coalition, led by ex-premier Dominic Perrottet, was pushing for the implementation of cashless gaming in clubs across the state to combat money laundering and problem gambling, while Labor pledged to prohibit political parties from accepting financial donations from clubs with pokie machines.
The latter ended up winning the elections, with Chris Minns sworn in as the new NSW premier.
Now, the Labor government has made good on its promise, with Minns saying the reform is long overdue. Introducing the Bill on Thursday, May 11, Minns stated that the new changes would close a “political loophole” and strengthen the integrity of the state’s political donation system.
In January, NSW Labor introduced changes to its internal policy which barred the party from accepting donations from clubs operating pokie machines. The bill, if approved, would extend that ban to all other political parties in the state, according to John Graham, NSW’s Special Minister of State.
The massive profits generated by pokie machines have come under the spotlight in recent months, with the latest figures from the Liquor and Gaming NSW showing that $4.3 billion was lost to pokie machines in the second half of 2022, up $820 million from the losses reported in the same period prior to the pandemic.
There has been a sharp rise in gaming profits for pokie machines since 2019, with the figure hitting $4.26 billion in the last six months of 2022, compared to $3.44 billion in the second half of 2019.
Cashless Gaming Independent Panel to be Set Up in 2023
The fact that these machines are generating “super profits” at the expense of many vulnerable NSW residents makes it all the more important to introduce major reforms, said Independent MP Alex Greenwich, who also pointed out that pokie machine operations in the state are tainted by money laundering.
Labor is also keen on implementing cashless gaming, but it will first conduct a 12-month trial which will be supervised by an independent panel of experts which the government will establish by August this year.
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