The head of the NSW gaming regulator, Philip Crawford has said electronic gaming cards should be introduced as soon as possible to avoid simply shifting the problem of money laundering into pubs and clubs once casinos introduce stricter controls.

The NSW minister for Better Regulation, Victor Dominello, has proposed that poker machines be made cashless and that gamblers be made to apply for an electronic gaming card, which would need to be loaded up from their accounts.

This would allow authorities to better track the source of money being gambled and avoid cash being laundered through poker machines, either in casinos or in pubs and clubs.

The NSW government estimates 20% of money put through poker machines in NSW relates to organised crime.

The card could also be used to put limits on problem gamblers.

The Bergin report into Crown Resorts released on Tuesday, identified the gambling card, as proposed by the government, as a “powerful mechanism” in tackling money laundering.

It says the proposal “has been the subject of some public debate and is not free from controversy”.

“However, it appears that the very significant utility of the card to assist the problem gambler would not be an issue. It is also obvious that it would be a powerful mechanism to assist in combating money laundering.”

While the Bergin report addresses the money-laundering failures of Crown, many of its findings will have impacts for the Star, the only casino in NSW.

Crawford who heads the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, added his support for the proposal on Tuesday, saying that without the cards the likely result of Crown cracking down on money laundering in its casinos would be a huge surge in illicit funds being laundered through pokies in pubs and clubs.

“When we started on this journey, we had no real idea where we were going to end up, and I think for all of us, it has been fairly breathtaking, the scope of the links to organised crime and the money laundering,” he said.

ILGA is responsible for regulating pubs and clubs as well as casinos.

Crawford suggested the card should be implemented as soon as possible.

The proposal has struck resistance among some members of NSW cabinet who have ties to the powerful clubs and hotels industry.

However, ClubsNSW has floated the idea of introducing their own card system.

Data from the NSW government revealed gamblers across the state lost $2.17bn to poker machines in clubs from June to November 2020, up 7% on the same period in 2019.