Installment-based payment plans could well evolve out of discussions with the gaming-machine industry to ease the cost of introducing electronics monitoring of the machines.
The Queensland TAB in Australia built the cost of equipping machines into ongoing licence payments, says Internal Affairs gaming spokesman Keith Manch. “If we [Internal Affairs] decide to go ahead, we’ll work with [the owners] to establish the most appropriate payment regime."
Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson has suggested that the costs may be too great particularly for rural gaming machine operators and those who run clubs rather than pubs and get less business. These tend to be the owners with older machines, which will require most upgrading to handle the standard interface for the nationwide electronic monitoring system (EMS).
Manch suggests that some establishments with aging machines have perhaps not adequately explored the gains they could have made by claiming tax rebates against the machines’ depreciation. Machine operators will also probably gain some reduction in costs from automatic monitoring of the funds flowing through the machines, meaning some physical cash-counting will no longer be necessary, Manch says.
The monitoring scheme will help prevent theft and fraud as well as keeping track generally on the patterns of gaming machine use. This, it has been suggested, may contribute to identifying patterns of problem gambling. The networking of machines will also enable them to be shut down remotely by DIA operatives.
If agreement is reached on the EMS scheme, Manch says he wants to see it go ahead “as soon as possible” thereafter. He could not put a firmer deadline on implementation.