Gaming the Machine: pokies bosses to sign up politicians Perrottet and Minns for another 4 years

by Callum Foote | Oct 22, 2022 | Business, Latest Posts

Security guards for the powerful pokies lobby threw reporter Callum Foote out of the ClubsNSW annual meeting Friday afternoon but not before members were told Clubs would be signing up both Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition leader Chris Minns to another favourable deal on poker machine regulations. Callum reports.  

Every four years, ClubsNSW stitches up the premier to an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding). It’s about getting “regulatory certainty” so the billions in pokies losses keep flowing to clubs. There is a lot of understanding between the powerful clubs lobby and assorted governments. In NSW particularly; the biggest pokies gambling province in the world. Billions of dollars in gamblers’ losses flow back to the state in pokies levies.

Chief executive Josh Landis told club bosses at the annual meeting in Sydney on Friday afternoon that despite Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition leader Chris Minns not signing the MoU just yet on the regulation of poker machines, a deal is expected before the election early next year. And it is expected the deal will still allow punters – unidentified money-launderers too – to shovel 5,000 in cash through a machine at any sitting.

It’s taking a little longer than usual this year to get the deal done, perhaps because Dominic Perrottet has expressed strong views about poker machines “taxing the misery of others”. ClubsNSW’s heavy-handed legal tactics, most notably it pursuing private criminal prosecutions against dying whistleblower Troy Stolz and Youtube critic Jordan Shanks, have not helped political sensitivities either.

Addressing the sparse sea of bald heads at the annual meeting yesterday, the club members still remaining after the three day festivities of ClubsNSW annual conference, Landis said, “We are expecting to have a position of certainty leading into the next election with both parties”.

Every Liberal Party leader since Barry O’Farrell in 2010 has signed an MoU with ClubsNSW ahead of state elections. If Labor’s Chris Minns signs, he will be the first Labor leader to do so.

“We ask all clubs to at least abide by the law. We know this is a huge burden on clubs” Landis.

The last MoU signed by the NSW Coalition leader Gladys Berejiklian in advance of the 2019 state election committed the government to not raise taxes on clubs, keep subsidising the lobby group’s grant program and update the NSW Clubs Act to ClubNSW’s preferences.

Berejiklian did get Clubs to commit to reduce the credit limit, the amount of cash gamblers can “load up” into a poker machine before playing from $7500 to $5000. The credit limit in NSW still ranges up to $9,999 for older pokies machines and other states have far lower limits.

In Victoria and the Northern Territory the limit is $1,000, while Queensland’s is $100 and South Australia’s is $99.99.

Agendas and items

Some of the big-ticket items addressed by Landis included the introduction of a code of conduct for NSWClub’s members. This has been introduced in the wake of the systemic money-laundering scandals engulfing Star and Crown casinos revealed via multiple government inquiries.

Landis told the audience that while clubs and casinos were very different, he didn’t want his organisation to lose its social license to operate like the casino operators.

“Clubs are vastly different [than casinos] and are regulated differently and it’s our intention that they stay regulated differently,” Landis said. “There is a very real risk of further regulation” if clubs are perceived to be acting outside the bounds of the law.”

“We ask all clubs to at least abide by the law. We know this is a huge burden on clubs” he said.

Another big ticket item is the introduction of digital wallet technology on gaming machines. If permitted, this would allow credit or debit cards to “fill up” poker machines before gambling. It would presumably increase pokies income for clubs because addicted players would not have to keep going back to the cash machine to get more money, a point at which they might take a breather and decide to cut their losses.

Trials of the technology have already begun this year. “We expect strong support of government regarding legislative changes to allow digital payments on gaming machines,” Landis told his audience.

The move has been hailed as an anti-money laundering policy by gambling lobbyists and the government.

The NSW Crime Commission has announced that it would investigate money laundering through the state’s poker machines.

The Commission had previously found that NSW’s gambling laws permitted the laundering of money through the pokies if less than $5000 was claimed. If a person puts $5000 they want laundered into a poker machine, and makes one bet, they can then withdraw the money and cash in their anonymous ticket.

ClubsNSW is currently suing whistleblower Troy Stolz, a former ClubsNSW employee who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, over his handling of internal documents, including a series of documents he sent to journalists.

The documents show that 95% of clubs in NSW are not complying with anti-money laundering laws.

When asked by MWM if he had any comments on Stolz, Landis said that “[Stolz] will have his day in court. He has brought proceedings against us. If he wants to fight it, he can. If he wants to drop it, that’s also his choice. We’re the defendants, it’s our legal obligation to defend ourselves in this case.”

ClubNSW is bringing a private criminal prosecution against Stolz and YouTuber Jordan Shanks for contempt of court which could see the pair in jail for contempt of court.

Poker machine turnover in NSW jumped from $74 billion in 2020 to $85 billion in 2021, which represented approximately one quarter of all household consumption spending that year.

Following the question to Landis, ClubsNSW staff requested venue security staff remove this reporter from the premises despite it being a public meeting.

ClubsNSW is yet to respond to questions by Michael West Media regarding its claims that its financial statements are “public” when it has steadfastly refused to provide the accounts to members of the public.

Pokies Thuggery: ClubsNSW lobbyists hammer critics, hide their own dirty laundry


Callum Foote was a reporter for Michael West Media for four years.

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