Cashless gambling system being considered for Victorian pokies

Pokie machines VictoriaAnti-gambling groups are in outrage as the Victorian government considers implementing a cashless betting system for the states suburban pokie machines.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation is considering introducing a TITO system (ticket-in, ticket-out) which will allow punters to load cash onto a barcoded ticket which can be then be used on the pokies. The system enables electronic gaming machines to pay winning credits in the form of a barcoded ticket which can then be inserted into another TITO machine to continue playing, or be redeemed for cash.

With Melbourne gamblers losing over $2.6 billion to the pokies during the past financial year, there are fears the cashless betting system will lead to an even further increase in the number of problem gamblers. A cashless system will make it easier for punters to use the pokies, with concerns it will help users bypass the $200 ATM withdrawal limits currently imposed in Victorian gaming venues.

A spokesman for Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Marlene Kairouz, Patrick Hutchens, told the Herald Sun said that gaming operators had shown interest in the cashless ticketing system.

“Cashless gaming has operated at Crown Casino for several years and we understand some pubs and clubs are interested in introducing this technology at their venues,’’ he said. “We’re currently considering appropriate harm minimisation measures for cashless gaming as part of our broader review of gaming machine regulations in Victoria.”

But anti-gambling groups are shocked the Commission is considering the move at all, with research showing cashless betting systems lead to an increase in losses, which leads to more gambling related harm.

Mark Zirnsak, spokesman for the Victorian InterChurch Gambling Taskforce told the Herald Sun, “The Productivity Commission identified the risks of cashless gambling — it can disguise the fact that people are losing real money, and may reinforce anonymous, intense and uninterrupted gambling.

“Allowing for cashless gambling on pokies is something the government should be stopping, not giving a green light to.”

An extensive inquiry into cashless gambling in the United Kingdom suggested a cashless system may enable gamblers to stick to pre-commitment limits and help them to make more rational decisions during a gambling session.

An inquiry led by the State Government of Victoria in 2016 noted a cashless gambling system could have both advantages and disadvantages. It said the TITO system could allow allows gamblers to easily withdraw cash balances on the machine and reduces the temptation by gamblers to continue playing to exhaust those balances, but could also reinforce anonymous, intense and uninterrupted play.

Public submissions regarding the introduction of a TITO system in Victoria close on September 1st.