NSW Government Announces Independent Panel to Oversee Gaming Reform Roadmap

July 15, 2023 | Government

SYDNEY, NSW (July 13, 2023) — The NSW Government is taking the next step in reducing gambling harm and tackling criminal activity through money laundering by establishing an independent panel into gaming reform.

The panel will oversee the cashless gaming trial and recommend an implementation roadmap for gaming reforms in NSW.

This delivers on the Minns Labor Government’s election commitment to establish an independent panel made up of representatives from law enforcement, gambling and health experts, academics and industry.

The panel will be chaired by former NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing Commissioner Michael Foggo.

The panel will consist of 16 members, with 3 independent Executive Committee members with extensive experience in government-led inquiries and committees – including Mr Foggo, former Labor Senator Ursula Stephens and former MLC and Deputy Leader of the NSW Nationals, Niall Blair.

The panel will also include:

  • 4 industry representatives
  • 4 harm minimisation representatives
  • 2 academics with relevant expertise
  • 1 Cyber Security NSW representative
  • 1 NSW Police representative
  • 1 United Workers Union representative.

The panel will also have the power to seek input from a wide range of external experts in the field and government bodies such as the NSW Crime Commission, NSW Information and Privacy Commission and AUSTRAC.

The NSW Government is focused on delivering reform which ensures the protection of participants’ privacy. Representatives from Cyber Security NSW and NSW Police will provide valuable insight into the panel’s consideration of robust privacy and data protection measures.

The panel will establish, implement, evaluate and review the trial of cashless gaming in electronic gaming machines across NSW.

This will include mandating certain requirements to participate in the trial. The NSW Government will make this the panel’s first priority.

At the conclusion of the trial, the independent panel will deliver its report, findings and recommendations to the NSW Government.

The panel will develop recommendations for government to consider in relation to the possible introduction of cashless gaming in hotels and clubs, taking into consideration infrastructure investments required, impact on employment and industry, options to further reduce gambling harm, and the impact on reducing the risk of money laundering.

Finally, the panel will provide additional advice to the government in the form of a gaming reform implementation roadmap by November 2024. This will include making recommendations to the government on:

  • use of the $100 million harm minimisation fund
  • expanding the self-exclusion register to the whole state and providing for third-party exclusions:
    • the use of facial recognition technology to support the enhanced exclusions schemes
    • milestones for the possible delivery of gaming reform in all NSW hotels and clubs
    • technical and system standards and privacy and data protections that should be adopted by government.

The NSW Government will also undertake a review of the ClubGRANTS Scheme to be conducted by Liquor & Gaming NSW in consultation with NSW Treasury and The Cabinet Office separately to, but concurrently with, the panel’s work.

The ClubGRANTS scheme has not been formally reviewed since 2013.

The announcement builds on a number of reforms the NSW Government has already introduced to curb gambling harm and tackle criminal activity in clubs and pubs including:

  • a ban on external signage for gaming rooms across NSW beginning 1 September
  • lowering the cap for poker machine entitlements by over $3000
  • reducing the cash input limit from $5000 to $500 on all new machines.

The Minns Government has already passed legislation to ban political donations from clubs with pokies in NSW.

Quotes attributable to Premier of NSW, Chris Minns:

“We know the harmful effects of problem gaming on families, and I want to make sure we stamp out criminal activity in clubs.

“This panel is an important next step.

“The panel has a big job to do but we have the balance right to ensure we have an evidence-based roadmap for future gaming reforms.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Gaming & Racing David Harris:

“We have taken the time to get the right people around the table to ensure we get the best possible trial that will protect consumers and provide confidence in cashless gaming.

“Michael Foggo and the independent panel will advise on the technology, infrastructure, cost, impact on industry and employment, and options to reduce gambling harm, that is their primary purpose.

“I look forward to the panel’s expert contribution as we continue to deliver on our commitment to gambling reform.”

Quotes attributable to Chair of the Independent Panel Michael Foggo:

“I am delighted to have been appointed Chair of the Independent Panel overseeing the expanded cashless gaming trial.

“Throughout my career I have taken a keen interest in the field of gaming reform and am pleased to once again be working alongside the NSW Government on this important initiative.

“Harmful gambling not only impacts individuals but also their loved ones and the broader community, which is why it is so important that we work together to reduce gambling harm.

“We must also ensure that there are appropriate mechanisms in place to stop the money laundering and criminal activity associated as outlined in the NSW Crime Commission report.

“We want to make sure we get the balance right and consider all relevant factors so that any future reforms implemented by the NSW Government, work.

“The Independent Panel will get straight to work and will meet in the coming weeks to confirm the framework of the cashless gaming trial and recommend an appropriate mix of venues for the trial to the NSW Government.”

SOURCE: The Premier, Minister for Gaming and Racing.

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