Internal documents from the New South Wales (NSW) state gambling regulator have prompted NSW Premier Chris Minns to probe the authority’s “hugely concerning” communications with pubs and clubs over slot machine compliance.
Minns said on Sunday (August 6) that the government will examine allegations that Liquor & Gaming NSW tipped off facilities before inspections and maintained other contentious practices.
The allegations have been raised by independent lower house lawmaker Alex Greenwich, who tabled the documents on Friday.
A list of the internal Liquor & Gaming emails and other documents, which includes a February 2022 email from clubs and pubs lobby ClubsNSW to members warning of imminent site inspections, was also tabled and released to the public, though with redactions.
Minns told reporters that Greenwich’s statement “is a hugely concerning allegation and it needs to be thoroughly investigated … the NSW Government will do everything we can to partner with organisations that are looking into that particular issue”.
Minns added that reform of Liquor & Gaming NSW practices may be on the table.
“There needs to be community confidence that the laws that are in place already are being observed and complied with,” he said.
The tabled documents also include an internal email written by the regulator’s former director of investigations that asked the head of compliance if a conflict of interest existed in a Liquor & Gaming anti-money laundering initiative with “the largest money laundering club in NSW”.
The name of the club was redacted in the tabled version of the document.
Liquor & Gaming NSW told the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Sunday that advance notice to pubs and clubs of compliance measures – in this case including slots layouts and advertising visible from the street – was routine.
It added that the former director of investigations’ comment on the club “is not endorsed” by the regulator, and that the “premises” in question “has not been subject of any adverse findings in relation to money laundering”.
Friday’s list of 96 documents includes some or all of the 38 documents that Liquor & Gaming attempted to withhold from a NSW Crime Commission's “Project Islington” investigation into money laundering throughout the state’s massive supply of slots in pubs and clubs.
NSW Crime Commissioner Michael Barnes objected to this exclusion in a letter that was tabled in parliament on August 1, apparently resulting in the regulator backing down.
Liquor & Gaming NSW told VIXIO GamblingCompliance on Thursday (August 3) that activity contained in the temporarily withheld documents “was consistent with other cases of money laundering identified during the Islington inquiry”, as advised by the Crime Commission.
“We therefore understand that these documents have no bearing on the findings or recommendations of Project Islington.”
Still, Greenwich remained critical of the regulator’s approach to the industry.
“My confidence in Liquor & Gaming as a regulator has certainly reduced as a result of reviewing these documents,” he told the ABC.