Cyberattacks in NSW Halts Cashless Pokies Trials

Cyberattacks in NSW Halts Cashless Pokies Trials

The New South Wales government has been busy working to further restrict gambling. Last week, the government announced new policies to reduce the number of live pokies in clubs and pubs. Furthermore, new machines will have a drastically reduced cash-in cap.

Meanwhile, the cashless gambling trial at Wests Newcastle has been suspended following a cyberattack. While the attack appears to be an isolated incident, the timing of the attack seems suspicious to some.


NSW Cash-In Cap Lowered to $500

On Friday, the NSW government announced a pair of new regulations that are intended to reduce gambling harm in the region. The first is a reduction in total pokies in the area. The government plans to reduce poker machine entitlements across the region by over 3,000. Per an announcement on Friday, clubs and pubs will be limited to the number of machines already in circulation.

The other regulation change is reducing the daily cash-in cap on new machines. New machines will have a cap of just $500. This is a 10x reduction from the previous cap of $5,000. The changes will not impact devices that are live before 1 July 2023. Also, these changes will not impact The Star Sydney. The Star Sydney is required to implement cashless gaming cards starting 19 August 2024.

The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) is responsible for implementing the new changes to policy. According to David Harris, NSW Gaming and Racing Minister, “We promised the people of NSW that we’d reform the gaming sector in a way that reduced gambling harm while future-proofing the industry. One of these commitments was to reduce the number of poker machines in this state – and this is an important step forward.”

The NSW government has been busy in recent months. Starting 1 July 2023, political parties will be banned from accepting donations from clubs that operate pokies. Beginning on 1 September 2023, gaming rooms are prohibited from displaying gambling ads.

Cashless Gambling Trials Suspended After Cyberattack

Wests Newcastle launched the first cashless gaming trial in NSW back in October. That trial was suspended last week after a cyberattack was reported by the company conducting the trial.

According to reports, a ransomware attack impacted approximately 40 members of Wests Newcastle. Hackers were able to encrypt lines of code between the bank account and digital wallets of the members. With ransomware, victims lose access to their data or accounts until a ransom is paid. Generally, there is a time limit until the data is irrecoverable.

Aristocrat was conducting the trial and reported that their digital partner Banktech detected the attack. A spokesperson for Aristocrat confirmed that player’s personal data was not compromised. Furthermore, the servers impacted by the attack have been shut down to allow a forensic expert to study them.

Some view the timing of this attack as suspicious. The cashless trial was to conclude at the end of June, and some think this was a planned attack. Independent AP Alex Greenwich spoke on the attack, stating, “This data breach is deeply suspicious and I think it would be important for the government to refer any information that they have to the NSW Crime Commission in the context of their investigation into organised crime and money laundering in NSW.”

“We know organised crime is engaged in these kinds of data breaches and ransomware attacks, and we know that organised crime has a lot to lose should we be implementing cashless gaming in NSW to prevent their ability to money launder.”

An independent panel will oversee cashless gambling in NSW, and one of their priorities will be data security. For now, this cyberattack appears to be an isolated incident.

Henry Walker

Henry Walker

Head of Casinos

Since 2017, Henry has brought his professional insight and passion for casino games to the world of Australian Internet Pokies. He’s our resident fact checker who goes through online casinos with a fine-tooth comb, searching for the best casinos, pokies and promotions.

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