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NSW cools on cashless gambling card

Plans for a cashless gaming card in NSW could be ditched in favour of opt-in digital payments, which critics say will not reduce gambling harm but allow criminals to continue laundering money.

Reforms proposed by Customer Service and Digital Minister Victor Dominello in 2020 would have required casual and problem gamblers alike to load funds onto a smart card.

It was part of a larger push for cashless gambling and was followed by an ongoing trial of cashless gaming machines at Newcastle venue Wests city.

The card had backing from former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, who was appointed by Mr Dominello to oversee an inquiry into Crown Resorts and later reported cashless cards could help combat money laundering, while stopping short of officially recommending them.

Support within NSW cabinet is mixed and Mr Dominello is no longer in charge of the issue after being replaced by Hospitality and Racing Minister Kevin Anderson in December, whose appointment was welcomed by ClubsNSW at the time.

The dumping of Mr Dominello was punishment after his proposed changes scared influential industry groups, Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate Reverend Tim Costello said in December.

Mr Anderson told The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday he does not support the government controlling a cashless gaming card, or it being mandatory.

He still supported digital payments but on an “opt-in” basis.

The government will consider the findings of an ongoing inquiry by the NSW Crime Commission, which will provide valuable insights into the link between organised crime and money laundering using poker machines, Mr Anderson told AAP.

The fate of the cashless gaming card has not been confirmed.

ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis has previously supported the inquiry and said the organisation is looking forward to an objective assessment of the issue so clubs can stay one step ahead of organised crime.

The government has backed down in the face of pressure from the clubs and hotel association seeking to protect their pokies revenue, NSW upper house independent MP Justin Field said.

“The idea that organised criminals would ‘opt in’ to a digital wallet is fanciful nonsense that will keep open the door to money laundering through poker machines in NSW,” Mr Field said.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns was reluctant to comment in detail but said the issue was a hard to navigate, and he expected the government to be transparent and up-front with any changes to the previously proposed reforms.

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