The problem of money laundering was the one to receive the most attention up until recently. However, as the citizens’ voices begin to be heard more and more, public perception is also becoming an important factor in the government’s decisions.
NSW Government Addressing Slot Machines
The Liberal and Nationals New South Wales (NSW) government started paying closer attention to slot machines across the state. A recent report by The Strait Times described how the government is considering going fully cashless and introducing some stricter limitations not only on the way people use the machines, but also limit their number across the state.
While going cashless is more of an anti-money laundering measure, people are increasingly showing their concern over the hugely popular slot machines. Hence, the government is looking into limiting the working hours for establishments that have slots, with each party planning to buy back 2,000 machines from them over the next five years.
The Strait Times’ report shared the story of a woman being casually exposed to slot machines in Sydney’s pubs and clubs. This developed into a problem for her soon after she turned 18 – the legal age to enter and consume alcohol in the state. Her story, spanning over a few years, is just one of many, leading the government to also consider imposing daily loss limits.
Another proposition has been to find ways to involve family members and friends of problem gamblers. The new policy will enable relatives and friends to apply for the problem gambler to be barred from using these machines if their gambling habits become too much of a problem. The end date for changes in legislation is December 31, 2028.
Winds of Change in Gambling Across Australia
Slot machines are widely available across pubs and clubs throughout NSW, which makes them easily accessible. This led to their number reaching more than 86,600 in mid-2022. This is 30% more than the number of machines in the states of Queensland and Victoria combined. Another worrying trend is that the lowest-income households have the highest use of slots.
Their sheer number came under the spotlight amid what started as allegations that they were used for money laundering, which was consequently proved as a fact, however, the most recent concerns lie in what these high levels of accessibility mean for the regular citizen. So, the focus for change now doesn’t lie in simply tackling money laundering, but also problem gambling.
As the number of victims of problem gambling increases throughout the entire country, and the public perception keeps becoming increasingly negative, changes were bound to come. The government’s five-year plan aims to address many of the problems associated with slots and poker machines, and money laundering and preserving the public’s health are top priorities.