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ClubsNSW has lost its moral compass over pokies

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ClubsNSW, the lobby group which represents the state’s 1400 clubs, likes to say that its aim is to build “stronger communities” – but it is hard to see that public spirit in its treatment of its former employee Troy Stolz.

As the Herald reported on Thursday, Stolz is terminally ill with bone cancer but he will spend his last months defending a legal action ClubsNSW has launched against him.

Stolz’s transgression was that in 2020, after eight years as senior officer with responsibility for fighting money laundering, he leaked an internal ClubsNSW report which suggested that its members were flouting the law.

The report handed to the Heraldthe ABC and federal MP Andrew Wilkie showed that 90 to 95 per cent of clubs were not taking the most basic precautions against money laundering.

Since then ClubsNSW has tried to silence him for breaching confidentiality agreements. Stolz has been forced to sell his family home to pay the mounting costs.

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While ClubsNSW said on Wednesday that Stolz was not a real whistleblower and was trying to extract money from his former employer, the pursuit of a terminally ill man for his last pennies says a lot about ClubsNSW ethics.

Stolz was not a thief. He was acting in the interest of the same communities ClubsNSW says it wants to strengthen.

The evidence is mounting that clubs are not doing enough to fight money laundering. While small local clubs play a valuable role in many communities, the people at the top seem unwilling to take any action that threatens the revenues from the $85 billion a year pumped through NSW poker machines.

Last November, a senior gaming regulator told the Herald that he believed about $1 billion is laundered each year through clubs in Australia, much of it through NSW’s 85,000 poker machines. The Daily Telegraph this year leaked details of a confidential state government report which said investigators suspected organized crime had laundered $5.5 million though 178 Sydney venues in one seven-week period.

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