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NSW Cashless Gambling Trial Prioritises Cybersecurity Amid Hack of Pilot Program

The New South Wales government’s cashless gambling trial is placing a major emphasis on cybersecurity following a ransomware attack on a smaller pilot program. The recent incident resulted in a trial shutdown at a significant Newcastle venue, run in conjunction with poker machine company Aristocrat Gaming and digital payment processing firm Banktech.

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NSW Cashless Gambling Trial Prioritises Cybersecurity Amid Hack of Pilot Program
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Ransomware Attack Prompts Data Security Focus

State Gaming Minister, David Harris, assured that data security would be a significant consideration for an independent panel, expected to be appointed shortly. The panel’s responsibilities will include scrutinising potential vulnerabilities in personal data and ensuring the secure privacy and data protection of trial participants.

Industry Response to Ransomware Incident

Wests Group Australia, involved in the trial, and Banktech, the digital wallet technology provider, have taken immediate steps to address the cybersecurity breach. Banktech enlisted security specialists to conduct an extensive investigation, asserting that none of the personal data had been compromised.

Aristocrat Gaming also confirmed the incident and assured stakeholders they are that the situation is being closely monitored. The ransomware attack believed to be isolated, is under investigation by the NSW cybercrime police squad and Cyber Security NSW.

Delay in Cashless Gambling Trial

Despite these setbacks, the commitment to the cashless gambling trial remains intact. The delay in its launch, originally slated for 1 July, is attributed to ongoing negotiations over the independent panel’s composition. The panel will comprise representatives from law enforcement, the gambling industry, health and gambling experts, and academics.

However, concerns have arisen regarding potential industry interference, with critics including Greens MP Cate Faehrmann urging the government to stand firm against such pressures.

The Road Ahead: Implementing Cashless Gambling

Premier Chris Minns is steadfast in his commitment to the cashless gambling trial, affirming the government’s dedication to reducing gambling harm and money laundering. The anticipated benefits of the trial are expected to somewhat echo those of online gambling websites, which already utilise secure cashless systems.

Despite a delay in the panel’s formation, the focus remains on designing an effective and comprehensive trial. The panel’s remit will include assessing various cashless technologies, necessary infrastructure investments, impacts on employment and industry, and the technology’s ability to curb addictive gambling behaviour.

The trial is seen as a significant step in addressing the state’s gambling issues, which were highlighted in a 2022 crime commission report. The report outlined the misuse of poker machines in money laundering, with billions of “dirty” cash being funnelled through these machines every year.

The introduction of cashless poker machines is an attempt to stem this tide, placing NSW at the forefront of gambling reform. Despite the complexities and challenges presented by the ransomware attack and subsequent delay, the objective remains clear: implementing a safer, more transparent gambling landscape for Aussie gamblers.