Are Criticisms of Gambling Reform Based on Debunked Data? you bet

Currently, when a pub or club applies for a new poker machine, they are required to contribute an amount to a community benefit fund based on the machine’s expected profit over the next five years. The five most recent applications involved fees ranging from $63,000 to $193,000. That makes a few thousand dollars per machine to go cashless look like nothing. These are just the costs of doing business.

Finally, they claim there is no evidence that mandatory cashless playing cards work. Well, we decided to put that to the test. Wesley Mission reviewed all currently available academic studies and test evaluations from Australia and around the world and spoke to our own gambling advisory staff about their frontline perspective.

The evidence in favor of pre-commitment and loss limitation schemes was compelling. The experience in Norway with the Norsk tipping system is remarkable. Since 2016, this cashless system has a global maximum loss limit of €2000 (around $3000) per month across all gambling platforms, but customers can set a lower limit.


Over 90 percent of people set a limit that is below the maximum, and the average limit is €450 per month. One measure of the system’s impact is calls to Norway’s national gambling hotline. Only 5 percent cite Norsk tipping alone as their main problem, while 71 percent cite offshore betting companies where the system’s limit setting feature does not apply. And there is no evidence that the system has displaced people from slot machines to other forms of gambling.

Drawing on these and other studies, evaluations and trials, Wesley Mission has put together a paper in which we make the case for a cashless loss prevention system with nine specific design features that we believe will be essential to an effective solution. An earlier draft of this paper was presented to both the government and the opposition late last year.

The evidence is there, the expectation of the community is there. The people of NSW are watching very closely where the political will now lies to make a cashless card a reality.

The Opinion newsletter is a weekly collection of views that challenge, support and inform your own. Sign up here. Are Criticisms of Gambling Reform Based on Debunked Data? you bet

Callan Tansill

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