Call for cashless gaming cards to tackle soaring pokies losses

The AGR are pushing for cashless cards for EMGs in Victoria and NSW.

Elsie Langie, Liam McNally

The state government is facing pressure from advocates who say cashless cards for electronic gaming machines (EGMs) would benefit people in “vulnerable” areas, like the west and north of Melbourne.

The push from the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR) follows an announcement from New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet that all pubs and clubs in the state must introduce cashless gaming systems across all poker machines by 2028.

More than $45 million was spent on pokies in Melton between July and December last year, which is an increase of more than $4.5 million on the six months prior, and makes Melton the 10th highest spending municipality in Victoria.

Moorabool spent over $7.5 million in the same period, and increased by more than $1 million.

In Victoria, cashless EGMs have been implemented at Crown Casino, but those machines only account for about 10 per cent of the state’s total poker machines.

Melton council city life director Troy Scoble said council is “supportive of Victorian government reforms to reduce gambling related harm in the community”.

“Council has committed to addressing gambling related harms for individuals and the community through a range of harm prevention and reduction strategies,” he said.

“Council participates in local government working groups to advocate for regulatory reform to reduce harm from gambling, with a focus on the frequency of gambling consumption and expenditure.”

Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Melissa Horne said the government had overhauled how it regulated the gambling industry with the new Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission.

The commission has oversight of all gambling activities in the state from pubs and clubs to the casino, with harm minimisation a central part of its focus.

“We will continue to monitor the harm minimisation arrangements for hotels and clubs across the state to ensure we have the appropriate regulatory settings and reserve the right to make further changes,” Ms Horne said.