The NSW Government has welcomed the commencement of operations by the Independent Panel on Gaming Reform, marking a significant step towards enacting meaningful changes in the gaming landscape.
This expert panel has convened to deliberate upon key aspects of the forthcoming cashless gaming trial, as well as to inform its recommendations to the NSW Government on a comprehensive gaming reform implementation roadmap.
Minister for Gaming and Racing, David Harris, addressed the inaugural meeting of the Independent Panel on Monday, August 14, 2023, in Sydney. In his address, Harris underscored the significance of the Independent Panel's role in shaping the cashless gaming trial, emphasizing the need for careful consideration of design and regulatory elements.
Harris stated, "The Panel’s first priority is to confirm the design and regulatory settings for the expanded cashless gaming trial, to ensure it can start as soon as possible."
He further emphasized the importance of selecting a diverse array of venues and technology providers that will participate in the trial, in order to ensure robust data security and privacy safeguards.
Beyond its immediate focus on the cashless gaming trial, the Independent Panel is tasked with offering comprehensive advice to the NSW Government on a broader gaming reform implementation roadmap by November 2024.
This encompassing roadmap is slated to address critical areas such as the utilization of the $100 million harm minimisation fund, the expansion of the self-exclusion register, the incorporation of third-party exclusions, and the integration of facial recognition technology to bolster exclusion measures.
Furthermore, the Independent Panel will play a vital role in influencing the ongoing review of the ClubGRANTS Scheme. This review, conducted by Liquor & Gaming NSW in partnership with The Cabinet Office and NSW Treasury, runs parallel to the panel's gaming reform work.
The Independent Panel is led by accomplished individuals who bring a wealth of expertise to the table.
Chaired by Michael Foggo, former Commissioner of the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, the executive committee comprises Dr Ursula Stephens, a former Senator for NSW from the Australian Labor Party, and The Hon Niall Blair, former Deputy Leader of the NSW Nationals.
The composition of the panel has been carefully curated to ensure a balanced and comprehensive representation of key stakeholders and experts from various domains.
Chair Michael Foggo highlighted the diverse expertise present in the panel, stating: "The panel is set up so that a range of key stakeholders and experts are represented, including industry, gambling harm minimisation experts, academic experts, law enforcement, and cyber security."
The panel possesses the ability to seek insights from external experts and government bodies, such as the NSW Crime Commission, the NSW Information and Privacy Commission, and AUSTRAC.
The commencement of the Independent Panel's activities builds upon previous reforms implemented by the NSW Government to address gambling-related harm and tackle illicit activities connected to gaming machines.
These measures encompass a ban on external signage for gaming rooms, a reduction in poker machine entitlement caps, a decrease in the cash input limit, and legislation to prohibit political donations from pokies-related clubs.
Scheduled for monthly meetings with additional sessions as necessary, the Independent Panel features a roster of experts hailing from diverse sectors. This inclusive membership includes individuals from law enforcement, cyber security, industry associations, academia, and social services.