Tuesday 7th of February 2023

pokies bosses to sign up politicians perrottet and minns for another 4 years.........

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.

 

READ MORE: 

https://michaelwest.com.au/gaming-the-machine-clubsnsw-to-sign-up-politicians-perrottet-and-minns-for-another-4-years/

 

 

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whistleblowing odds....

 by      The Court was gripped by high drama in Troy Stolz’s case against ClubsNSW today as the Australian Government Solicitor contacted parties over pokies lobby claims the whistleblower breached confidence in contacting MP Andrew Wilkie’s office.  Callum Foote and Michael West report.

 

After four days of the dying whistleblower being hammered by ClubsNSW lawyers in the witness box, it was sweet news for Troy Stolz. The Australian Government Solicitor contacted parties in Stolz’s defamation case against the powerful pokies lobby today. The AGS was concerned that ClubsNSW was wrong in its claim that Stolz had breached confidence by informing MP Andrew Wilkie about money laundering in clubs.

Communications with a Member of Parliament are privileged. Troy Stolz had been a compliance officer for ClubsNSW. He contacted MP Wilkie’s office as a whistleblower. In an extraordinary development, the AGS is expected to make submissions in the Stolz case next week.

The breach of confidence claim by ClubsNSW is not directly relevant to the outcome of the present case, which is about defamation. Stolz claims ClubsNSW defamed him via communications to its club members after he raised concerns about money-laundering through poker machines.

However, ClubsNSW has brought up the breach of confidence issue throughout these proceedings in its gruelling four day cross examination of Stolz in the witness box; and the matter is relevant to its own case against Stolz. ClubsNSW is suing for breach of confidence and has even brought a private criminal prosecution against Stolz, who is fighting Stage 4 cancer.

Following the flurry of legal actions between ClubsNSW and Stolz, a taskforce of regulator led by the NSW Crime Commission found that “billions of the $95 billion (pokies turnover in NSW pubs and clubs last year) likely the proceeds of crime”

Breach of confidence?

Stolz also gave information to a number of journalists and another whistleblower. The heart of the controversy in Stolz handing confidential information to Wilkie was that he contacted a Wilkie staffer and ClubsNSW argued that a staffer was not Wilkie himself therefore it was a breach of confidence.

These are the key parts of the cross examination of Troy Stolz by Clubs NSW barrister Michael Seck:

MS: You acknowledged before that the document contained confidential information from ClubsNSW, correct? You sent it to Rohan Wenn. He’s a communication consultant correct? 

TS: That’s not correct he’s an employee of Andrew Wilkie. 

MS: You sent it to Steve Cannane and Karl Taylor, they’re from the ABC?

TS: Correct.

MS: You sent it to Nick O’Malley of the Sydney Morning Herald. Sent it to Jeffrey Morris? He is a guy who calls himself a whistleblower right?

MS: Sending of confidential or propriety information was, you understood, in breach of your confidentiality obligations?

MS: You don’t disclose here that you sent the document to Andrew Wilkie.

TS: I disclosed that I sent it to a representative of Andrew Wilkie, Rohan Wenn. It’s impossible for a politician to address every person that comes through his office so I sent it to Rohan Wenn and I think Parliament has already ruled on that issue Mr. Seck. 

MS: You never sent the document to Andrew Wilkie directly, you sent it to Rohan Wenn correct?

TS: Correct.

MS: He’s not a Member of Parliament right?

TS: No, but he’s an employee of Andrew Wilkie’s office.

MS: You don’t send it to Rohan Wenn at his parliamentary address but his private address. 

TS: Well, to an address he provided me. Regardless of that he was acting as an employee or an extension of Andrew Wilkie’s office and that email has been deemed to be covered by parliamentary privilege by the Privileges Committee. 

MS: What is not covered by parliamentary privilege is the board paper is it?

TS: I believe the board paper is, as it contained evidence of money laundering that was covered up by ClubsNSW.

MS: It’s not covered by any parliamentary privilege. Are you seriously suggesting that Mr. Stolz?

TS: I am seriously suggesting that.

MS: Rowan Wenn is a communications consultant not an employee of Mr Andrew Wilkie, do you agree?

TS: No, that is incorrect. He is an employee of Andrew Wilkie. This has been dealt with in the Federal Parliament.

Gruelling cross examination

Before the shock intervention of the AGS this afternoon, ClubsNSW had been unrelenting in its interrogation of Stolz, picking through dozens of emails.

When questioned regarding his memories leading up to his resignation as a compliance officer for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing at ClubsNSW, the organisation’s lawyers alleged that Stolz’s drinking affected his behaviour.

“You can’t tell me what days and what times you were affected by having drunk a few bourbons? Anytime you give evidence about events which occurred in October or November 2019, would it be fair to say that there was a strong possibility that you were affected by alcohol as a result of drinking?”

Stolz replied that “I’ve had problems answering some more recent questions, but, you know, five rounds of radiation and eight rounds of chemo will do that to you. So not necessarily alcohol. But if you’ve experienced chemo, you might understand,”

Stolz’s told the Court that he sought help from his GP due to his drinking around that time.

Earlier in the week, Stolz told the Court that a reason for his leaving ClubsNSW was the bullying he received from his former manager Jim Terrie.

Stolz told the court earlier this week that Terrie contacted his subsequent boss Neil Jean to give a scathing review of Stolz’s work and claimed that Jeans should sack Stolz; “He said there were so many issues with my work performance if I hadn’t resigned when I did he would’ve sacked me,” Stolz said. “He said – I won’t forget the words – ‘Well, Troy’s your problem now, good luck.’”

ClubsNSW alleged that Stolz bought the business names of a number of ClubsNSW trademarks that the organisation had failed to register as a negotiation tactic when ClubsNSW executives refused to meet with him.

“I was surprised that they were available to any member of the public, not specifically me on the particular ABR website at that time. I was surprised ClubsNSW for a few bucks hadn’t purchased them and taken them offline” Stolz said.

“You intended to get ClubsNSW attention by registering these business names”, ClubsNSW barrister Michael Seck said. “That was designed to be provocative by using registering exactly the same name to club New South Wales”.

Seck drew attention to an ABC article published in 2020 where Stolz told the ABC that when he got no response, he registered a number of business names, that included ClubsNSW brands, to get the organisation’s attention.

ClubsNSW then dug into the documents Stolz gave journalists and politicians in 2020, including a board paper showing that up to 95% of clubs in NSW weren’t adhering to anti-money laundering regulations.

ClubsNSW lawyers suggested that Stolz acted illegally in sending the documents to journalists: “In sending off confidential or propriety information you understood was in breach of your confidentiality obligations correct?

“In terms of that document, that’s not correct. I believe that this this document was in the public interest and of national security,” Stolz replied.

The trial is expected to wrap up on Tuesday, however, it is moving slower than had been expected.

 

READ MORE:

https://michaelwest.com.au/feds-to-step-into-troy-stolz-case-after-clubsnsw-hammers-pokies-whistleblower-for-four-days/

 

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poking pokies....

 

To counter the Perrottet government’s widely supported proposal for poker machine reforms, NSW Labor has announced a “mandatory” cashless gambling trial involving less than 1per cent of the state’s machines (“Minns shows hand as pokies reform becomes poll issue”, January 17). It is difficult to imagine how this will have any impact on problem gambling and money laundering, with 99 per cent of poker machines operating under business-as-usual conditions. More details about the design of the trial are required. What will be measured? What steps will be taken to ensure that the outcomes are not manipulated? The lack of such information is disconcerting, as is the claim by Minns that compensation for losses incurred by pubs and clubs for participation in the trial could amount to $27 million. On a per machine basis that averages $54,000, even with the pokies still generating income, an amount that surely fails the pub test. 

Stephen Foster, Glebe

 

 

The idea of limiting 500 pokies out of 90,000 is absurd. I have in the past put a corflute in my yard to support the Labor Party. Let me put this in language that a pollie will understand: no card, no corflute. 

Ron Wessel, Mount St Thomas

 

How about Minns’ “trial run” of cashless cards on 500 poker machines? Heavens, that would cover about two suburbs. Talk about a drop in the ocean. The clubs have turned a blind eye to this problem for far too long. We need more than a “trial” to make even the slightest change. Minns says the problem of gambling addiction needs to be “stamped out”. It sure does – with heavy hobnailed jackboots, not a pair of bedroom slippers. 

Greg Vale, Kiama

 

READ MORE:

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/minns-trial-of-cashless-gambling-fails-the-pub-test-20230117.html

 

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ACCORDING TO THE PEOPLE IN THE STREET, MINNS IS AS POPULAR AS A CACTUS IN A SINKING SUBMARINE. BUT WHO KNOWS....

 

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