Ahead of the March election

NSW Labor pledges to ban political donations from clubs amid push for gambling reform

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns.
Reading time 1:29 min

New South Wales Labor has promised to ban political donations from clubs amid the ongoing fight over poker machines in the Australian state. NSW Labor has sought to outflank the Coalition in its push for gambling reform ahead of the March election, announcing it will expand political donation bans to include the clubs sector, while also reducing the number of “pokies.”

The new suite of reforms also includes an expanded 500-machine trial of cashless gaming, bans on “VIP lounge” signage outside pubs and clubs and reduced cash input limits on new pokies, reports The Guardian. This comes as Labor seeks to fight off criticisms from anti-gambling advocates after it refused to support Premier Dominic Perrottet’s push to introduce cashless gaming across the state.

The move would see Labor ban political parties from accepting financial donations from clubs that have gaming machines if the party wins government in March, as well as limiting cash feed-in limits to AUD 500 a machine for all new poker machines – down from the current limit of AUD 5,000.

“I said from the outset this is a complicated policy area and we needed an evidenced-based approach to make sure any measures we introduced would work and wouldn’t have any unintended consequences,” the opposition leader, Chris Minns, said on Monday. “Labor is leading the way – from today Labor will not accept donations from clubs with gaming machines. The Liberals and Nationals should make the same commitment.”

Under Labor’s promised reforms, the number of machines in the state will be reduced by cutting the entitlement cap to be in line with the existing number of machines. Having every second poker machine traded between venues will be also forfeited, instead of every third machine under the current regime, the cited source adds.

While a mandatory cashless gaming scheme is off the cards for now, Labor said it will fund a “wide-scale trial” partly funded by the AUD 100 million fine issued to casino giant Star Casino. Minns said the cost of the trial could be as high as AUD 27 million, based on a 50% reduction in gaming on each machine used. The rest of funds would be put towards harm-reduction measures, including an additional yearly AUD 10 million into the Responsible Gambling Fund.

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