First NSW cashless gaming trial results criticised as further trials continue 

April 24, 2024
By Cody Profaca

The report into the cashless gaming trial conducted at Wests Newcastle has received criticism from various industry stakeholders after it showed the technology to have little impact on the behaviour of gamblers. 

The main areas of concern have stemmed from the trial’s lack of harm-reducing features and lack of features that encourage continued participation. 

“It was mostly about testing the technology and a little bit of a hint towards harm minimisation,” said Carol Bennet, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

“I would have liked to see more on the harm minimisation front.” 

The final report, which was delivered to State Government by independent researcher Professor Paul Delfabbro from the University of Adelaide in September of last year, was controversially withheld by the State Government up until last week.

The full 191 page report, available to read here, suggests that the trial was largely limited due to difficulties regarding the integration of gamblers into the new technological framework. This includes limitations post registration, with gamblers left with the choice of deciding whether to utilise the technology or to use cash during each visit to the venue. 

“Given the resources required to onboard patrons on to new technology, it may be that larger venues are better positioned to adopt cashless gaming than smaller ones,” said Delfabbro’s report. 

The published data reveals that, out of the 260 patrons that registered for the Wests Newcastle trial and completed the pre-trial survey, only 77 completed the post-trial survey. It also outlines that the trial experienced limitations even amongst its active participants. 

“The most common response was that there was little impact on how much time or money [was] being spent, or how fast people gambled,” stated the report. 

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has called for the mandatory use of cashless gambling technology with inbuilt safety mechanisms to better reduce harms associated with gambling.

“We need to see the introduction of the recommendation from the NSW Crime Commission for a mandatory cashless card that includes binding and default limits,” said Bennet.

A spokesperson for Liquor & Gaming NSW (L&GNSW) reflected that the scale of the Wests Newcastle cashless gaming trial may have limited the scope of results. 

“Prior to the report being finalised, the Panel considered early findings from the Wests Newcastle trial to inform the settings for the expanded cashless gaming trial which it is currently overseeing,” said the spokesperson. 

“It is noted the Newcastle trial was one small trial in one venue on limited machines… The majority of hotels and clubs in the expanded trial will have every machine in their venue operating the cashless technology.”

The results of a similar trial conducted in Club York are currently pending publication. A much larger trial has since been initiated at Tweed Heads’ Twin Towns Services Club, which will see the cashless gaming technology implemented across all 596 of its gaming machines. 

Despite the unremarkable results from the trial at Wests Newcastle, the recently published report concludes that most key objectives were met. 

“On the whole the trial showed that the cashless gaming solution was able to deliver on what it had been designed to do,” said Delfabbro’s report.

“It was clear that the system enabled breaches to be recorded, although the way in which this information was fed through to the venue required some attention during the trial. 

“Another positive feature was the ability to provide detailed data on gambling activity both using the old and new systems, which can be useful for future discussions around safer gambling initiatives as well as anti-money laundering investigations.”

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