A recent announcement revealed that a cashless pokie trial will be running in New South Wales over September. Aristocrat Gaming will head the initiative that is planned to take place at West Leagues Club in Newcastle. The cashless option will be available for club services, including pokies and snacks.
Based on the results of the trial, cashless options may end up becoming the rule, rather than the exception across NSW. The experiment will be closely observed by other states also looking to adopt cashless systems.
The cashless consideration
The concept of cashless pokies has been floating around the industry for some time now and a recent resurgence in interest has given the technology the push it needs. Much of the interest seems to have been generated by the Crown Resorts scandal where money laundering featured heavily. Operators are also considering the innovation as a tool to further customer of wellness and prevent tragedies like player suicides and bankruptcy.
To participate in the trial, you will need to pass a 100-point ID check and connect your digital wallet to an Australian bank account.
You will be able to set limits on the time and money you allow yourself to spend gambling and self-exclusion options are available for customers who have identified themselves as problem gamblers. At the casino, marshals will respond to real-time requests if you experience any problems.
The overwhelming reaction to the announcement of the trial has been positive, So far, the reaction has been positive with many industry stakeholders expressing their support.
The Aristocrat CEO, Mitchell Bowen, stated, “Aristocrat believes that enabling cashless payment solutions is an innovation that may help enhance the long-term sustainability and vibrancy of our industry.”
The NSW Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello, said, “It will help us combat the twin sins of money laundering and problem gambling, addressing the key concerns of the Bergin Inquiry.”
The Wests Group Australia CEO, Philip Gardner, also weighed in, saying, “A powerful new suite of responsible digital tools will empower our members and allow them to set limits, speak to a staff member, or even exclude themselves from the club. The ability for our members to use their own mobile wallet to pay for a meal, membership and gaming is something our industry hasn’t seen before.”
The preventative power of friction
These recent developments have also piqued the interest of the academic community. Dr Sally Gainsbury, an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney feels that the trial is essential to provide additional data for a poorly-researched topic. She stated that the technology may fall short of its ambitions, particularly if it fails to provide enough “friction.”
“Obviously, if you make it so you can stand at a machine, tap your credit card or bank account straight to it and just keep piling money onto it, and just keep putting that straight into the machine, there is a very high risk [of harm]. Because we know from consumer research that digital payments do increase expenditure and reduce awareness of how much they’re spending. So the system has to be designed where it has at least as much friction as actual cash, and ideally more so,” she elaborated.
The type of friction in question includes time and geolocation limits. These enforce a waiting period on players or force them to leave the casino completely for a certain time before they’re able to gamble again. Dr Gainsbury also suggested that punters should receive monthly progress reports.
The ACT’s intent
The ACT government will be keenly observing the progress and results of the trial. In the interim, a new ministerial advisory council made up of club reps and gambling reform advocates has been created to examine whether cashless gaming would be appropriate for the Bush Capital.
Numerous gambling reforms are planned for the territory such as $100 load-up limits, $5 bet limits, and fewer pokies being made available.