The Community Gaming Association has expressed grave concerns about the Department of Internal Affairs’ contract with the Greek company Intralot to provide the electronic monitoring system that tracks and monitors gaming machine operations in pubs and clubs.
The DIA is about to roll out the complementary Integrated Gambling Platform from Intralot, whose founder has been the subject of international scrutiny.
The association’s executive director, Brian Corbett, says his members are very concerned regarding the ongoing legal issues, challenges and innuendo regarding the efficacy of Intralot and, in particular, “the matters surrounding one of the principle shareholders as outlined in Computerworld and various news items”.
“A 2010 study on organised crime links by the European Commission Centre for Democratic Studies devoted a section to Mr Kokkalis [Intralot’s founder], who holds a 25 percent shareholding in Intralot, and, worth noting, Intralot has lost licences in Bulgaria and South Africa. They were also passed over in Illinois due to concerns around probity,” Corbett says.
“The double standard that seem to apply here is that operators in New Zealand market are held accountable for every dollar that passes through a slot machine, and venue staff are subjected to scrutiny to ensure they meet key person thresholds, which means that staff who may have been bankrupted or have a police conviction are rendered non grata in a gaming venue.
“Given this, the irony surrounding Intralot and the extension to the IGP is not lost on the New Zealand gaming industry.”
Corbett says his association intends to write to DIA and the Minister of Internal Affairs Chris Tremain to ensure that all key persons for all third-party companies meet the same criteria applied to domestic operators.
“The system that Intralot operates in itself works well in the main; however, the fact that all gaming data is held by a company that is under investigation in other jurisdictions is cause enough for concern that we intend to raise it with the relevant departments.”
In a previous statement to Computerworld, DIA says it has worked with Intralot NZ for more than eight years and there been no integrity issues.”
“Intralot NZ Ltd provides technical services and is not involved in gambling operations in New Zealand.
“The systems have been developed to ensure the integrity of non-casino pokie gambling and the accurate accounting of money (EMS) and to manage the department’s licensing and compliance activities (IGP),” DIA says.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has begun questioning Greek state gaming operator OPAP's recent decision to award a high-profile technology contract to Intralot, which was also selected as the buyer of the Greek state's 33 percent stake in OPAP.
The EC auditory process is expected to further delay the execution of the recently closed privatisation deal between Intralot and the Greek state.
Just a few weeks before designating the new owner of its 33 percent stake in OPAP, the Greek government implemented a law that banned online gambling in the country. At the same time, the government exempted OPAP from this ban, allowing it to unrestrictedly offer online gambling services to at least 2020.
This decision was taken despite the fact that in early 2013 the European Union Court of Justice ruled that OPAP is an illegal monopoly because the state allows it to conduct operations that cannot be conducted by other privately owned companies.
South Korea’s audit agency has launched a probe into the government’s lottery commission on suspicion of corruption and the shady acquisition of contracts. Intralot runs the county’s online lottery system in cooperation with a South Korean system developer.
In Romania, the National Anticorruption Directorate has begun an extensive investigation into the procurement contracts signed by the national lottery’s managers. Managers are being asked to explain the clauses of a contract signed with Intralot that state that Intralot will receive 80 percent of revenues in exchange for electronic equipment.
Computerworld has approached Intralot for comment but has not had a reply.