Pokies contract winner expects 100 NZ jobs

New Zealand will become Intralot's Asia-Pacific hub, says CEO

A $35 million, six-year gaming machine monitoring contract signed last week between Greek company Intralot and the Department of Internal Affairs will provide the base for Intralot to make New Zealand its hub to expand into Australia and Asia.

Intralot is a supplier of integrated gaming and transaction processing systems, and game designs to state-licensed gaming organisations worldwide. It has annual revenues of around NZ$600 million.

CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos, in New Zealand last week to sign the contract, says his company has established a local subsidiary, with whom the DIA contract has been signed, and expects to create up to 100 jobs, 25 of them directly employed. The others will come from sub-contractors, mainly EDS, which will host the monitoring system.

“New Zealand is our first company in the region and will become the hub. It will provide expertise and marketing for Australia and Asia,” he says.

“We’re now operating on five continents.”

Intralot also made the shortlist for a New Zealand Lotteries project but Lotteries chose to stay with the incumbents.

Antonopoulos says Intralot is across all types of gaming other than casinos. However, it has formed a strategic partnership with the Hilton Group and is investigating next-generation systems for casinos, as well as targeting specific projects such as national lotteries.

The New Zealand subsidiary will be headed by Ioannis Katakis, currently the general commercial director of Intralot. He will be based in Wellington. The company will take premises at EDS’ datacentre at Upper Hutt.

Under the DIA contract, Intralot will provide a controller for every gaming venue, which will monitor poker machines and transmit the data to the host system at EDS in Upper Hutt. The EDS site in Auckland will be used for disaster recovery.

There are around 1,800 venues and more than 20,000 poker machines.

DIA deputy secretary Andrew Secker says the electronic monitoring system will greatly increase the accountability of the gambling sector. Incorrect banking and inaccurate record keeping by gambling operators were the most common problems found during audits carried out by the department.

Gaming machines in pubs and clubs generated more than $8.6 billion in turnover last year and a profit of $1.035 billion.

The electronic monitoring system will give the department information allowing it to:

  • Monitor how much money is gambled on each machine
  • Monitor how much each machines pays out in prizes
  • Monitor how much money should be banked
  • Ensure that all software being used on the machines is identical to the approved versions
  • Assist in detecting software failures
  • Assist in detecting tampering with a machine or software

“Our responsibility is from the controller onward,” says Katakis.

A pilot will begin at the end of the year, and rollout has to be completed by March 2007. Everything has to conform to the Gaming Act.

Katakis says the controllers are secure. “If anyone tries to interfere with them, the site will close down.”

Intralot has gaming machine operations in two European jurisdictions, and the same system will be used in New Zealand. Application development will be done in Greece, customising the software for New Zealand. It is based on IBM’s Unix operating system, AIX.

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