The whole Crown casino saga in NSW has made us look more closely at money-laundering. In 2010 a Ministerial Advisory committee estimated that 20% of poker machine turnover was related to money-laundering. In 2017/2018, turnover in pokies in NSW was $83billion. Yes, $83billion. That's more than the GDP of Sri Lanka or Luxembourg or Croatia or Venezuala.
And that means that $16.6billion was associated with money laundering.
The NSW Upper House supported a Greens motion on 17 February 2021 calling on the government to urgently prioritise measures to stamp out money laundering.
These MPs are acting, because others are not. The NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, appears to be a spokesperson for ClubsNSW with a big sob story about how they can't be expected to act on this huge problem. Oddly, he's met with ClubsNSW more often in the last 8 months than any other organisation in NSW, including retail and tourism, which are also impacted by the pandemic. Robert Borsak from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party has underestimated the problem, and taking the industry's word on it about implementation costs. Other Ministers have very strong links with the industry, like Police Minister David Elliott, former AHA executive, who is apparently not overly concerned about the laundering of criminal proceeds in NSW.
How do you launder money with a poker machine?
You don't need to wait for a big win, you just take your suitcase of cash in - no-one will ask you about it, trust us - and you put in $5000 in cash. You hit the button a couple of times, then cash out. Your ticket probably says $4980. The venue can't tell if you won or cashed out, they just give you the cash, and you put it in a bank account, cleaned.
How do we stop that?
We introduce a card, linked to a provable identity, and that card can have a small amount of money on it. It's that simple. And, of course properly designed from a public health, harm minimisation perspective, such a card would allow those who are self-excluded to know they can't operate a machine, or those who want to, to set their budget to $0 so they get a break from gambling. It would generate accurate information on how much people are really losing - we all know we misremember things like this - and it would require people to move away from the machine to get more funds. Read more on how we see such a system working well.