A wrangle is developing between Internal Affairs and the gaming machine industry over electronic monitoring.
The Lion Foundation’s Brian Corbett says Internal Affairs is dragging its heels over the whole issue while the industry itself has been trying for years to implement a monitoring system.
“There have been 11 ministers under the portfolio who have done nothing with it,” says Corbett, who feels Internal Affairs may be misleading the public over the reasoning behind electronic monitoring.
“Electronic monitoring, or EMS, is something the industry has wanted for some time but it won’t stop fraud. Fraud occurs as a result of misappropriation of grant money. All the department wants monitoring for is to ensure the right amount of GST and gaming duty are paid.”
Corbett feels that no amount of electronic monitoring will substitute for counting the coins “the hard way”.
Internal Affairs’ Janice Calvert says the issue is made more complex by the fact that there are already about 12,000 machines in New Zealand that may not be capable of electronic monitoring.
“It is more of a challenge to introduce a monitoring system in a market which already has gaming machines,” says Calvert.
In New South Wales a moratorium has been placed on the introduction of electronic monitoring to allow the industry time to upgrade or replace equipment. Something similar would have to be instituted here, says Calvert.
Calvert also cites the lack of legislation as being a delaying factor in the development of any system. “Generally speaking, electronic monitoring has been introduced to jurisdictions at the time they introduce gaming machines or it hasn’t been introduced at all.”
Corbett believes EMS is fundamentally important to the industry itself.
“We want it to drive our business, to assess the effectiveness of games, to get turnover, player percentage, all of that.”
Internal Affairs hopes an EMS will allow more accurate assessment of turnover for tax purposes and will test the gaming software to ensure it is running properly and is paying the “return to player” it is supposed to.
The Lion Foundation has trialled an EMS in Auckland but is unwilling to implement it without government approval. Corbett didn’t want Lion to spend the money only to discover Internal Affairs wants something different.