VCGLR taking a second look at putting cashless pokies machines in Victoria pubs and clubs.
For nearly two years, law makers all over Australia have been debating a number of laws directly effecting the way poker machines can, and cannot, be played. Just this month, the government sealed the deal on a law that prohibits all forms of online gambling, outside of sports betting. Now, Victoria is taking a second stab at a regulatory change that locals have already displayed great opposition to.
The Victoria Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) is keen on installing cashless poker machines at clubs and pubs. The new cashless gaming machines may be supported by local operators. However, in a previous push, the plan received strong opposition from the public, as well as anti-gaming crusaders.
These cashless pokies would no longer require players to insert actual cash notes into the machines to play. Instead, they would be able purchase pre-paid tickets. These tickets are then inserted into the poker machines to give players a balance.
Opposition Continues for Cashless Poker Machines
While regulators are of the opinion that this will help to reduce gambling spend and harm, anti-gambling advocates believe the opposite is true. They’re assessment of the situation is that cashless pokies machines will give players a false sense that they’re no longer spending real money.
Mark Zirnsak, a spokesperson for the InterChurch Gambling Taskforce, commented on the new cashless system concept. “The Productivity Commission identified the risks of cashless gambling,” he warned. “It can disguise the fact that people are losing real money, and may reinforce anonymous, intense and uninterrupted gambling”.
Zirnsak went on to express his concern that, “Allowing for cashless gambling on pokies is something the government should be stopping, not giving a green light.”
Patrick Hutchens, a spokesperson for the VCGLR, responded to such claims. He explained that the gaming regulator sees the matter in a different light; one that’s been ultimately successful in larger Australia casino venues.
“Cashless gaming has operated at Crown Casino for several years and we understand some pubs and clubs are interested in introducing this technology at their venues,” he said.
Hutchens went on to assuage the dejected opinion of anti-gambling crusaders, who fear cashless poker machines will proliferate problem gambling in Victoria. “We’re currently considering appropriate harm minimisation measures for cashless gaming as part of our broader review of gaming machine regulations in Victoria.”
Cashless Pokies to Mimic Support for IGA?
In other gambling law news, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill received the final step in ascension last week. Following Parliamentary approval in March, and the Senate’s official stamp in early August, Governor-General Peter Cosgrove signed the measure last week. With Royal Assent out of the way, the IGA will go into effect in mid-September.
The IGA is effectively an update to the relatively antiquated text of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. The new version formally prohibits online gambling, including interactive casinos and poker games, by requiring operators to acquire a jurisdictional license to accept Australian players.
Online sports betting is the only legal form of internet gambling in the nation, thus online pokies, blackjack, roulette, video poker, Texas Hold’em, etc. will be officially illegal sometime next month.
Like the system for cashless pokies machines in pubs and clubs, the IGA was heavily opposed in the beginning. Officials clearly changed their minds as the drafting of regulatory guidelines came together. Whether cashless poker machines will have the same fate is yet to be seen.