Big guns go in for tracking pokies

Telecom, EDS and Unisys are among those in the running to help Internal Affairs electronically monitor the country's 22,000 gaming machines.

Telecom, EDS and Unisys are among those in the running to help Internal Affairs electronically monitor the country’s 22,000 gaming machines.

Internal Affairs is seeking a system that will track the cash-based revenue of gaming machines at pubs and clubs.

Joint bids from Telecom and Unitab, EDS and Intralot, and Unisys and Mikohn — the latter a $US100 million US company — are three of the six finalists for IA’s tender. The others are Fortune Gaming, Independent Gaming Monitoring (which the Hospitality Association in 1999 took a 45% stake in) and US lottery giant Scientific Games.

“What you have is a system of machines that produces a gross profit of $1 billion in banknotes and coins,” says Internal Affairs spokesman Vince Cholewa. The present system of auditing, which involves “people going around with a pen and clipboard”, is inadequate, he says. Pokies annual turnover is $6 billion.

While the system won’t be able to track every coin and banknote that gets fed into the machines, it will be able to identify how much money should be in the machine after a day’s gaming and whether a machine has been turned off while in use. “At the moment there’s no way of telling whether a machine’s been tampered with, short of someone actually looking at it.”

The successful vendor will provide the server, networking, operating system and database infrastructure as well as the monitoring software. Providing storage for the data collected from gaming machines is also part of the deal, as is providing reports on the data for government agencies and other parties.

The societies and clubs that run gaming machines will provide connections from machines to a central point from where the system will pick up data. They will pay $15 to $30 a machine per month to be monitored. (Casino machines are monitored under a different regime.)

Internal Affairs notes on its website: “There is a misconception in the gambling sector that machines will not have to be connected until 18 March 2007. While this is the final date set in the Gambling Act, there will be various deadlines before then and most machines will be connected well before that date.”

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