A recent decision by the Victorian government in Australia has mandated that Tabcorp, one of the country's largest gambling operators, transition all of their retail betting terminals to cashless operations by early 2024, reports Gambling Insider. This move aims to reduce gambling-related harm by making it more difficult for vulnerable individuals to access cash to gamble impulsively.
Implementing cashless transactions is expected to provide greater oversight and control over spending, as all payments must be made electronically using a card or online account. Customers must pre-commit to a spending limit when they sign up for an account. This added friction introduces a cooling-off period that may discourage harmful spur-of-the-moment betting.
The policy change comes amidst growing concern about the social impacts of gambling in Victoria and a government review last year that recommended enhanced consumer safeguards. While the gambling industry argues that eliminating cash may drive consumers to unregulated offshore bookmakers, the government believes accountable gambling measures are necessary to prevent exploitation.
Tabcorp will be required to ensure all 7,000+ retail outlets in Victoria, including hotels, clubs, and betting shops, must only accept cards by March 2024 or face significant penalties. Some exemptions may be granted in remote areas with connectivity limitations. Critics argue the timeframe is too accelerated given the expected complex system upgrades required.
As one of the world's most gambling-liberal countries, Australia has the highest gambling spending per capita globally. The country is grappling with balancing a lucrative gambling sector that generates billions in tax revenue annually and addressing problematic gambling rates that are three times higher than most European nations.
The full impact these new cashless gambling mandates will have remains uncertain but reducing access to cash is likely to form a central part of future responsible gambling initiatives globally as digital payments become more ubiquitous. However, additional responsible gambling education and support services will need to accompany this transition to effectively combat compulsive gambling behaviour over the long run rather than relying solely on financial friction.