Wagga MP Dr Joe McGirr has joined his fellow NSW independent MPs Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper in welcoming the announcement of an independent panel to oversee gambling reform.
Premier Chris Minns and Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris announced former New South Wales Liquor, Gaming and Racing commissioner Michael Foggo as the chair of a 16-person panel that will oversee the introduction of the promised cashless gaming trial later this year.
“I am encouraged to see that the Independent Panel for Cashless Gaming Trials has appointed and will be regularly meeting to provide advice and recommendations on the cashless gaming trials,” Dr McGirr said.
“The objective for all involved should be to close a major loophole of criminal activity, to aid vulnerable persons away from problem gambling and to support venues in the transition to cashless gaming.”
The cashless gaming card was a key recommendation of the NSW Crime Commission report that found that criminal syndicates were laundering billions of dollars through poker machines.
The Premier also confirmed the first review of the ClubGRANTS scheme since 2013 amid concerns over transparency and accountability.
The three Crossbenchers were instrumental in enabling Labor to form government after a close-run election and they had made it clear that reform was high on their list of priorities.
“We know the harmful effects of problem gaming on families, and I want to make sure we stamp out criminal activity in clubs,” Mr Minns said.
“The panel has a big job to do but we have the balance right to ensure we have an evidence-based roadmap for future gaming reforms.”
Gamblers lost $4.6 billion on poker machines in NSW clubs in 2022 with problem gamblers estimated to contribute up to 75 per cent of electronic gaming machine spending.
“Problem gambling is the cause of great distress in many families and destroys some,” said Mr Piper.
“Gambling reform was a key issue in the 2023 election and it is clear that the community have had enough. The community are calling for real reform in this area.”
The trial is expected to begin late this year and the new panel has been given until November 2024 to deliver a gaming reform implementation roadmap.
The chair of the independent panel said he had a “keen interest in the field of gaming reform” and was looking forward to beginning the trials.
“Harmful gambling not only impacts individuals but also their loved ones and the broader community, which is why it is so important that we work together to reduce gambling harm,” Mr Foggo said.
“We want to make sure we get the balance right and consider all relevant factors so that any future reforms implemented by the NSW Government, work.
“The independent panel will get straight to work and will meet in the coming weeks to confirm the framework of the cashless gaming trial and recommend an appropriate mix of venues for the trial to the NSW Government.”