Gaming news Australia - March 2004
05 March 2004
, Australian Hotelier magazine
New Zealand gaming machine monitoring
Telecom has signed an agreement with Queensland-based gaming and wagering company UNiTAB to jointly tender for electronic monitoring of gaming machines.
The Gambling Act 2003, passed in September, requires all non-casino gaming machines to be connected to a central monitoring system.
The Department of Internal Affairs is expected to issue an RFP for monitoring services by mid 2004 and has adopted the QCOM (Queensland Communication) protocol as New Zealand’s monitoring standard.
UNiTAB, with a market capitalisation of more than A$800 million, works with more than half of Queensland’s hotels and clubs and won the exclusive monitoring license for the Northern Territory. UNiTAB developed its QCOM monitoring system in-house and has more than seven years experience in wide area gaming machine monitoring.
Telecom has the network to link all sites nationally and through Telecom Advanced Solutions, to install, host and support the necessary IT monitoring infrastructure.
New concept launched by publicans
My Shout, a mobile beverage catering business idea generated by publicans Ray Oliver and Andy Duke, is now servicing functions of up to 1000 people in both Australia and New Zealand.
It involves a portable self-contained bar, illuminated marquee, beverages and service staff primarily for private parties and corporate events.
My Shout has sold master franchises, and is in the process of increasing its franchisee base.
Territories are valued at a certain cost, and include bar kits which fit into a sign-written van that is leased by franchisee. Marketing and administration is undertaken by the franchisee, who pay a flat monthly fee per month.
Liquor supplies are centrally organised by My Shout, whose liquor licences cover franchisees. Software calculates the amount of liquor required for each event to assist the franchisee in quoting.
The client pays My Shout before the event. My Shout then pays the franchisee a fee for collecting liquor, setting up the bar, servicing and post-cleaning.
Gambling in Australia - Looking to 2004
While 2003 was characterised by consolidation and upheaval (Aristocrat) within the gaming industry here, 2004 is expected to involve a resolution of corporate activity and international expansion.
The domestic market offers increasingly limited operational opportunities, analyst Sean Monaghan from ABN Amro also reports in his outlook for the market over the coming year.
“2004 is likely to see the resolution of the Tab/Tabcorp/UNiTAB activity. If Tabcorp is successful with Tab, then it will be interesting to see who acquires the Central Monitoring System, and more importantly, who acquires the gaming links business (if the government decides these assets have to be disposed of),” he said.
Other candidates for consolidation could also be Burswood via PBL, and Sky City by an Australian-based entity. Rumours also abound that Tattersalls may seek listing on the market.
The coming year will see the much anticipated NSW IPART review being released in May and this could have wide-scale implications for harm-minimisation policies across Australasia.
He added that “The smoking ban front, Queensland and NSW are expected to release reviews and New Zealand should be the first to introduce complete smoking bans across gaming venues from December.”
Hotels could offer lotteries
The trial between NSW Lotteries and TAB Ltd. To offer lottery products in a few selected TAB outlets has been extended to include all lottery products.
Instant Scratchies have been on sale at a number of TAB’s for around a year.
If successful, the trial could be extended to more than 300 TAB outlets in addition to another 1,600 plus facilities in hotels and clubs.
NSW Lotteries sold nearly $1.1 billion worth of lottery products last year, a 7% increase on the previous year.
Publicans earn $59,000 per annum from each gaming machine
The NSW Department of Gaming & Racing’s fiscal year results for the year ending 2003 show that the state’s hotels earned an average profit of $59,000 per gaming machine. The report showed that 1,830 hotels were operating 24,255 gaming machines. Total turnover was $13.8 billion from July 1 2002 until June 30, 2003, while assessed profit was $1.4 billion.
The gaming regulator also rejected a number of machines which manufacturers wanted to introduce in NSW. One of the machines that was rejected had a game with a probability of one to 8 billion of winning the top prize.
Machines showing Australian banknotes were also banned for inducing gambling or implying players would win more than they actually did.
The recently released Casino Control Authority report also indicated that Star City was fined for non-approved gaming machines. Star City believed that the games were approved, however the software was not verified by the Liquor Administration Board.
Amendments to ACT Gaming Laws due to be enacted
Following the Gaming & Racing Commission’s review of the Gaming Machine Act last October, the ACT Government has agreed in principal to grant two class B gaming machine licences to ACT taverns, and to limit the size of notes that can be accepted by larger gaming machines, rather than ban note acceptors altogether.
Apparently the Parliamentary Counsel is working towards a February to March deadline to have the legislation available.
Gaming Machine Numbers Falling in NZ
Gaming machine numbers in pubs and clubs are declining after years of continual growth, according to figures from the Department of Internal Affairs.
The number of gaming machines peaked at 25,221 halfway through last year, after year after year increases since machines were first licensed in 1988. In the second half of 2003, the number of machines dropped to 22,734, after the rate of growth had slowed in the first half.
The new Gambling Act, which became law in September, means that any gaming machine site licensed since late-2001 can only have a maximum of nine machines. Gaming machine societies also must maximise their returns to the community and take necessary harm minimisation strategies.
Along with the fall in machine numbers, the number of societies operating gaming machines also fell from 947 in mid-1999, to 672. However, the number of sites is falling more slowly -- from 2137 in mid-1999 to 2031.
The new legislation has also tightened up on the issue of whether gaming machines were an ancillary use at a site, or more a core product. This will be reviewed in more depth over the coming year, and sites will no longer be able to operate if their main activity is deemed to be the operation of gaming machines.
Ainsworth first profit expected
Ainsworth Game Technology expects to book a maiden profit for 2003-04 of between $1 million and $4 million, following its small operating profit in the first half.
Ainsworth booked a loss of $14.8 million for 2002-03, following a $4.6 million loss for the first six months to December 31.
"This improvement is due to the international expansion plans as outlined in the recent prospectus dated November 10, 2003, including the recently announced strategic alliance with Unicum Ltd within the growing Russian market and the expanded product range through the Celebrity and Ambassador Benchtop machines," the company reported.
"The extent of this improvement is difficult to quantify more precisely at this time as it is dependent upon many factors, including further expected international orders, the currency effect of the Australian dollar, changes to the regulatory process within which [Ainsworth Game Technology] operates and the extent of customer acceptance of current and new games being offered."
Global Gaming Expo organisers prepare for 2004
Total attendance at G2E 2003 grew by 7 percent, with 22,700 industry professionals attending the 2003 event last September.
Since its debut in 2001, G2E has grown from an event featuring 375 exhibitors