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Alliance For Gambling Reform - Position Paper


The Alliance for Gambling Reform calls on all Australian jurisdictions to introduce a requirement for mandatory, registered cashless gambling cards for use with Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs, otherwise known as poker machines or “pokies”) in all venues that have EGMs, including hotels and clubs as well as casinos. There is compelling evidence that a mandatory cashless gambling card will help minimise the harm caused by gambling, and will have the additional benefit of addressing criminal activity related to EGMs. READ OUR POLICY.

Media Release

6 February 2023

Perrottet’s poker machines reforms a watershed
Minns can still show leadership and back cashless card

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has applauded the poker machine reforms outlined by Premier Perrottet, arguing they represent a watershed moment in harm minimisation.


“These reforms unveiled by Premier Perrottet today are the most significant and wide-ranging poker machine reforms that I have seen in more than 30 years of campaigning to limit gambling harm in communities across Australia, the Chief Advocate of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, said.
"I applaud the Premier's leadership and determination to introduce a mandatory cashless gambling card with pre-commitments. in which people can set a limit on their losses, across all pubs and clubs in NSW." Rev Costello said.
"It is clear from all of the evidence, including the recent NSW Crime Commission Report, that a mandatory cashless gambling card will reduce gambling harm and also combat the billions of dollars in the proceeds and crime that are laundered and spent on poker machines across the State's pubs and clubs every year.”


The reforms reflect the core of the Alliance's Position Paper on poker machine reform with the central recommendation being a mandatory cashless gambling card requiring people to prove their identity in order to play and in which people can set loss limits and once those limits are reached they are temporarily stopped from playing.


Rev. Costello said while the Alliance would like the deadlines for the reforms to be sooner, it was understood that it will take time to adapt the 90,000 machines across the state. 


"That is why these reforms are so important, while Tasmania is committed to a cashless gambling card there are just over 3,300 machines in that State. NSW has always been the 'belly of the beast' with more than half of the nation's poker machines in pubs and clubs,” he said. 
“The focus must now be on Opposition Leader Chris Minns. He must abandon his policy for a flawed and unnecessary trial - a policy essentially written by the big clubs - and deliver bipartisan support for real reforms in NSW.”


The Alliance’s Position Paper says: “The evidence is clear: approaches relying on voluntary or anonymous cashless gambling cards are self-defeating.  They simply do not achieve the aims of minimising gambling harm or addressing criminal activity”.


Rev. Costello argued we must not allow the deep pockets and the aggressive and misleading lobbying of ClubsNSW and the Australian Hotels Association to manipulate the election campaign to stall any change that will help reduce gambling harm. 


“If Mr Minns commits to support the introduction of a mandatory cashless card, he will show true leadership, be tough on crime and be a champion of many struggling communities (many of which are held by the ALP) where gambling hits the hardest, sucking millions of dollars out of local communities and destroying lives,” he said. 


Rev. Costello said the position paper outlined 14 recommendations that any cashless gambling card should adhere to.


The position paper outlines a model that will work to reduce harm, remove the risk of criminal activity and address the glaring problems in the industry highlighted by successive inquiries.”


The Alliance is a national advocacy organisation which works to prevent and minimise the harm from gambling. Our aim is to remove the shame that surrounds gambling, have the problem treated as a public health issue, and achieve the legislative changes needed to protect our communities.

Tim Costello is available for interview
Media contact: Martin Thomas – 0477 340 704


New South Wales State Election 2023

Action now to reduce money laundering and gambling harm. 

The NSW election is less than 9 weeks away. Gambling reform is one of the key issues. The Alliance for Gambling Reform is advocating a mandated cashless gambling card for all poker machines in NSW with mandatory pre-commitment, binding and default limits (that follow the Tasmanian model) and does not allow the use of credit. This system will stamp out crime and have a major impact in preventing and minimising gambling harm in the most impacted state in Australia.

A number of MPs (including Premier Dominic Perrottet) and other candidates have thrown their support behind the proposed cashless gaming card including the NSW Police Commissioner, the peak union body UnionsNSW, churches, leading charities and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

On 16 January 2022, NSW Labor leader Chris Minns shared his plan for the election including yet another trial with less than 0.6% of the state's poker machines involved.

The Alliance firmly opposes another trial given the findings and key recommendation of the NSW Crime Commission. We support action now to reduce money laundering and gambling harm. Historically, trials of gambling reforms in Australia have led nowhere.

We’re calling on you to help reduce the state’s growing toll of gambling harm by reaching out to your local Labor MP or candidate and urging them to immediately support a cashless system with gambling harm minimisation features as proposed by the Alliance, rather than yet another trial.

Trials will not change anything, we have evidence of what needs to be done and action must be taken now!

City Lights


The risk of gambling harm from poker machines increases after dark. We know that the high levels of harm being experienced by people in the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning are avoidable. 
Click here to learn more and take action



It's time to kick gambling ads out of sport!
Sign the petition and find out more about how you can stand with us to end gambling ads here!



nline gambling participation has increased exponentially over the past few years and the true extent of its impacts and reach are still being fully understood. However, the evidence available shows significant gambling harm being experienced online by young people and vulnerable community groups with a significant increase in online wagering companies profits over the past few years. Click here to learn more and take action

We're an independent, not-for-profit and proudly rely on our supporters, not the gambling industry!
Make a tax-deductible donation today. 

Rev Tim Costello
Chief Advocate

Some of our largest companies and investment funds have a vested interest in poker machine gambling. Governments want few restraints given that $5.5 billion flow into their coffers every year. This is a difficult problem to unlock. Many Australians have a stake in the future of the gambling industry through their superannuation, equity investments and participation in clubs and pubs.

Over the past twenty years this is an industry that has been unleashed on Australia, without reasonable regulatory controls or even a genuine community conversation.

Australian Currency


Australians spend more per person on gambling than any other country in the world - almost double that of New Zealand.

Poker machines are the most harmful form of gambling, making up $11 billion of Australia’s total gambling losses in clubs and pubs alone.

Australians spend more money gambling than on other activities that can be addictive and dangerous including alcohol, tobacco and all illegal drugs. It is a major driver of household debt, and family and personal dysfunction.

The Australian gambling industry pocketed $25 billion dollars in 2018-19, largely from Australians who can least afford it. A complacent attitude to the gambling industry has resulted in few marketing, planning or technology constraints.









Poker Machines Petition

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Latest News

Perrottet has rolled the dice. Now Minns must up the ante

The Sydney Morning Herald

6 Feb 2023

I have had the tragic duty of presiding over the funerals of six people who have committed suicide due to their gambling. Their losses, their shame, their losing battle to stop gambling – all became too much. The pain suffered by family and friends is indescribable. The loss of life is so senseless and horrific. It is why I have been such a prominent campaigner for gambling reform for more than three decades.

As NSW election looms, the tide is turning on the powerful gambling industry

Croakey Health Media

31 Jan 2023

Just as Rachel Carson’s 1962 book, Silent Spring, led to a shift in how people viewed the pesticide DDT, so too is a fundamental shift needed in how people view gambling and the powerful industry involved, according to public health experts in England.

“As we struggle with a cost-of-living crisis, we must ask why we seem unable to act against a powerful industry that, in effect, acts as a mechanism for transferring money from the poor and vulnerable to the wealthy and privileged,” they write in the BMJ. “When will the gambling industry have its Silent Spring moment?”

Rise in money spent on poker machines in NSW prompts calls for tougher intervention

SBS News

25 Jan 2023

The amount of money spent on poker machines in New South Wales reached over two billion dollars in the third quarter of 2022 alone.

Perrottet’s poker machine revolution passes snap meeting of cabinet

The Sydney Morning Herald

5 Feb 2023

All poker machines in NSW will be cashless within five years after Premier Dominic Perrottet’s long-promised gambling reforms passed a snap meeting of cabinet.

After months of contentious public debate, and tension within the Coalition, the most significant overhaul to gambling since poker machines were legalised in the state in 1956 will include a range of financial support measures for clubs and pubs to introduce the new technology, as well as a specific regional transition fund.

Clubs boss resigns amid pokies furore


31 Jan 2023

In this ABC Radio National episode of #PM, Alliance Chief advocate Tim Costello points out ClubsNSW is scared the reform will undermine it’s billions of dollars in profits.

Gambling ‘false hope’ for mortgage shortfall, flags Costello

Mortgage Business

25 Jan 2023

To what extent is gambling affecting loan repayments? That’s “a really good question,” said anti-gambling campaigner, the Reverend Tim Costello.

Relieving stress and rising consumer costs mean two things prosper: “gambling and eating more chocolate,” according to Alliance for Gambling Reform chief advocate, the Reverend Tim Costello.

Speaking to Mortgage Business, Mr Costello highlighted the impact that the rising interest-rate environment could be having on Australian borrowers - particularly on those who gamble.

“Gambling almost certainly [affects loan payments] because people have an attitude of ‘I'm stuffed anyway, I might be able to make this mortgage gap with a win’, he explained.

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