Thanks for trying. I tried it with usb.ccid.disable set to TRUE, and it did take over the reader, but it was still not visible to the OS running on the VM.
It’s almost as if there is a driver missing or something, but that doesn’t make any sense either.
The same instance of the VM runs fine on other systems. The difference between where it works and where it doesn’t is the security posture, or whatever.
Unfortunately, the help desk refused to address the question of what policies might be interfering here, on the grounds that VMWare was not a corporately supported app.
I don’t know enough about Windows 7 policies to formulate a useful question. And, of course, it may all be moot shortly, as I am due to be upgraded to a new box with Windows 10 this month.