NSW starts testing cashless gaming at Wests Newcastle

The government aims to reduce gambling harm and combat money laundering.
The government aims to reduce gambling harm and combat money laundering.

A three-month trial will test how the technology operates in real-life conditions.

Australia.- The government of New South Wales has announced that the first cashless gaming trial has begun at Wests Newcastle for up to 200 members. The trial is testing the use of digital technology in a bid to reduce risks of gambling harm and protect against money laundering.

Kevin Anderson, minister for hospitality and racing, said the trial will test the technology under real-life conditions. He said: “The trial is part of an exciting new era where innovations such as digital wallets offer customers greater convenience and control over their spending and help venues and authorities identify suspected cases of money laundering.”

Developed by Aristocrat Gaming, the technology has been installed on 36 Wests Club slot machines, which use Bluetooth to connect guests’ mobile phones to the machines. This technology can establish a Bluetooth connection between the user’s mobile phone and the machine. This allows customers to transfer money directly from the game wallet on the phone to the machine.

Digital wallets can be used to fund slot machines, and players can set payout or time limits, access real-time payout data, take breaks or self-exclude gambling, and access other responsible gaming tools and services. Customers cannot load funds from the casino into the game wallet.

A digital wallet requires a person’s identity to be confirmed before they can play, and it’s linked to that person’s debit card or bank account, meaning authorities can determine the source of those funds if necessary.

Examples of limits that can be set using the technology include:

  • Session length: maximum duration for a continuous gaming session
  • Frequency of play: maximum number of visits to a venue in a specified period
  • Amount spent: total net expenditure in a given period
  •  Total bets: maximum total bets within a given period

Users can choose which of these limits to activate and can choose multiple limits which cannot then be altered for 24 hours.

David Ronson, MD for Aristocrat Gaming APAC, said: “We’re proud to have proposed this trial, as we believe enabling cashless electronic gaming machine play payment solutions through patron’s mobile phones, is an innovation that can help enhance the long-term sustainability and vibrancy of our industry.”

Phil Gardner, CEO of The Wests Group Australia, added: “This trial builds on our long-standing commitment to patron choice and welfare. We know many of our patrons want the convenience of digital payments, which is part of this trial. The trial also allows us to offer a powerful new suite of digital tools to empower our members and allow them to set limits, speak to a staff member, or even exclude themselves from the club if they choose.”

Anderson said the government has approved three other gaming manufacturers to conduct similar trials, IGT, Utopia Gaming and Scientific Games, with another application currently being assessed. 

The news comes a week after two Sydney church leaders released a statement calling for reforms to gambling regulation in New South Wales. Anglican dean Sandy Grant and Wesley Mission CEO Stu Cameron have demanded reforms, arguing that NSW poker machine losses were around twice as high as in other states.

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