The New South Wales Labor leader Chris Minns has refused to back an initiative to introduce cashless gambling cards in the state, despite pressure from MPs trying to force the coalition government to accept the proposal.
After the NSW Crime Commission released a long-awaited report this week calling for the introduction of mapping and detection billions of dollars in “dirty” money are gambled away in pubs and clubs every yearboth major parties are under pressure over the measure, which is fiercely opposed by the state’s gaming lobby.
The report says “vast sums” of the proceeds of crime are being gambled away by criminals in pubs and clubs across NSW, “rewarding and supporting crime in society”.
Prime Minister Dominique Perrotte agreed to consider the proposal.
But he and Minns said they would consult closely with industry representatives about the playing card. ClubsNSW previously said the technology rollout would cost thousands of jobs and $1.8 billion, however did not provide any evidence for this claim.
Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich sought to pressure the main parties by amending the bill to legalize the use of facial recognition technology in clubs and pubs.
On Friday, Means refused to support the Greenwich Amendments.
“The Crime Commission report called for far-reaching reforms, it wasn’t a wavering at the edges,” he said.
“Obviously, there are consequences as a result of these reforms. But we are open about it.
“But given the complexity of this, we have to make sure and see what people put on the table before I give full support to a proposal that I haven’t seen.”
Minns addressed the lobby’s claim that the offer would be too high and said there was “obviously a difference of opinion” between ClubsNSW and the commission.
“It is difficult for the New South Wales opposition to overcome this difference of opinion or difference of fact.”
The cashless gambling card was recommended by Patricia Bergin after her investigation of Crown Casino as a harm minimization tool for gamblers and as a way to combat criminal money laundering in the sector.
She is backed by anti-gambling groups and was supported by former gambling minister Victor Dominello before he was ousted from the portfolio after ClubsNSW opposed the proposal.
But this week a report by the Commission on Money Laundering in Clubs and Pubs said the card would help tackle a “$95 billion a year information black hole”.
The club lobby has previously argued that facial recognition technology is also too advanced and ineffective, but now advocates its use as a harm reduction measure and anti-money laundering tool.
But Greenwich criticized both main parties for “condescending” to the club’s lobby.
“It’s not a new proposal, it’s supported by the NSW Crime Commission and I think the electorate wants Labor to have bold and different policies and not just sit on the fence,” he said.
“This is alarming [both parties] are consulted by authorities who have a financial benefit from not taking measures that harm gambling and who want to turn a blind eye to the money laundering that takes place in clubs and pubs.
“It’s the equivalent of forming your drink-driving policy by consulting the alcohol industry.”
It comes after the government ruled out clubs being able to use facial recognition technology to enforce bans on patrons kicked out of clubs for being too drunk or disorderly.
This week the Guardian reported that ClubsNSW was refusing to rule out expanding the use of the controversial technologyafter initially saying last week that it would only be used to force self-exclusions made by problem players.
The Department of Alcohol and Gambling said it was still developing guidelines for the use of the technology, but it would only be used to track people “excluded from gambling, themselves, family and friends, or people convicted or suspected of serious crimes”.
“This will not include one-off offenses such as being under the influence of alcohol or fighting on club premises,” the spokesman said.