Pressure to launch NSW pokies inquiry

Hundreds of millions of dollars are reportedly being
Hundreds of millions of dollars are reportedly being "washed" through poker machines in NSW.

The NSW government is under pressure to establish a public inquiry into money laundering in the state's pubs and clubs after revelations hundreds of millions of dollars are being "washed" through poker machines.

An investigation by Nine newspapers and 60 Minutes on Sunday night aired allegations lax regulation of the industry was allowing organised criminals to use the pokies as vehicles for money laundering.

In an interview, NSW's chief gaming investigator David Byrne said the organisation had in Sydney alone identified 140 pubs and clubs and more than 130 individual gamblers associated with money laundering in the first four weeks after the COVID-19 lockdown ended.

However, only 5.5 per cent of NSW venues with electronic gaming machines have submitted a suspicious transaction report to money laundering agency AUSTRAC since January 2018.

Mr Byrne told the program pokies venues need "a wake up call" and said they should be scrutinised in a similar way as the giant casino firms Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment Group.

The Crown group has faced extensive inquiries in NSW and Victoria, with Star due for the same treatment early next year.

"If it's good for them, then it's probably good for the clubs as well," Mr Byrne said.

Independent NSW MP Justin Field has echoed that call.

He wants Premier Dominic Perrottet to establish a special, independent inquiry to investigate the allegations and advise the government on reform to clean up the sector.

"The implications of recent media reporting is clear: a significant portion of the profits enjoyed by clubs and pubs and of the gaming tax collected by the NSW Government is the proceeds of organised crime including likely drug trafficking and human slavery," he said in a statement.

"Neither side of politics can any longer credibly claim an inquiry is not needed."

He called on Clubs NSW and the Australian Hotels Association to back an inquiry.

"If they don't they will be putting ill-gotten profits ahead of the public interest and patron safety," Mr Field said.

Mr Perrottet said the allegations were concerning and he would be briefed on the issue later on Monday.

"The NSW government has zero tolerance for organised crime," he told reporters.

"We will certainly look at this and if there is action that needs to be taken by the state government, we will certainly take the appropriate action."

The program also aired allegations the industry's powerful peak body - Clubs NSW - threatened to campaign against politicians who proposed reforms.

The lobby group is a major donor to political parties, while the government also reaps about a billion dollars in tax revenue from the machines each year.

However, Mr Perrottet rejected suggestions the government could not be impartial on the issue.

"Any view that somehow the government is compromised because it receives gaming revenue I reject out of hand," he said.

Australian Associated Press