Terry Williams, CEO of NAMOA Australia, is informing all industry people that the "Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing (OLGR) in NSW is currently investigating the legitimacy of the amusement game ‘Road Trip’. There are concerns the investigation could escalate into a broader look at all redemption equipment."
Mr Williams has written an open letter to the industry at large:
"A situation has occurred in the Newcastle area which could have serious ongoing repercussions to all redemption machines and if left unchecked the pending enquiry could quickly involve other States. There is already a push by the South Australian Government to ban some redemption games and OLGR is aware about that.
A citizen was offended by the presence of a ‘Road Trip’ game located in the children’s area of a Newcastle hotel and complained in writing to a local newspaper, the Maitland Mercury.
There were several items placed in the newspaper, one of which was bannered “Father concerned children’s game could groom them to gamble” and the article was titled “Kids pokies gaming inquiry”. Road Trip was the target of his angst to the newspaper but he also went directly to OLGR and lodged an official complaint.
An OLGR compliance officer visited the hotel and after inspecting the machine informed the publican that he was committing a licensing offense and demanded the contact details of the machines owner.
OLGR subsequently informed the operator he could be charged with a criminal offence under the Gaming Act resulting in a possible fine and or a prison sentence.
The operator was told he had to remove his machines from that hotel, and all other hotels in that chain, which meant another four hotels in the Newcastle area. This eventually amounted to an effective and sudden loss of five fairly expensive games from his operation now all located in his workshop.
Immediate representations were made to OLGR on the operator’s behalf by a major distributor who had initially sold the machines, and then referred the matter to NAMOA.
NAMOA was virtually obliged to intervene and negotiated directly with OLGR, concluding with an email outlining the industries official position. Our obligation here was to douse this incident as quickly as it could but the matter remains under investigation and, as mentioned, it has the potential to escalate.
You might wonder of our attitude relating to this particular incident. NAMOA’s stance was that the citizen who complained, and OLGR, are both somewhat correct in their attitude given the circumstances of where the machine was located, which was within a children’s area of a hotel.
This is not a matter of the machines legal status in relation to Gaming as that can be easily defended in a general sense because it has the approval of a full State Government investigation to prove it.
The real problem with this particular game is that it ‘looks’ like a gaming machine in the eyes of some in the community. Whether we concede the point is immaterial, the visual connection has been made and tabled. In fact this is part of the problem we are currently still fighting is South Australia, where Government protagonists insist ‘If it looks like a gaming machine then it must be regarded as a gaming machine’.
To the best of our knowledge the distributors who are selling this game have been advising operators not to locate them where children can play them. You might not be surprised to learn the operator concerned claims to have had no such warning and, with five machines in his workshop, you can draw your own conclusions.
So once again NAMOA is left to clean up the mess. As stated Road Trip is not a gaming device but, if we were very generous, we might concede it may look like it is in the eyes of some. Thus, for the sake of the industry, and your business, please heed this warning...
Do not locate this game in children’s areas.
This is a very important message from a bitter lesson learned. For the sake of redemption generally we implore all operators to use common sense and be very mindful of where equipment is located, and use the NAMOA Prize Redemption Classification Labels with corresponding prize values. They are excellent guidelines and have been accepted as the industry standard.
The timing of this incident is ironic as NAMOA has just recently resolved to forward The Australian Collector to the entire industry as we had concerns the populace were not getting the message on a wide range of very important issues – such as this! For the first time the Collector was to go to everyone and was literally on its way back from the printers when this incident blew up.
This matter has not concluded as far as OLGR is concerned and it might be that all operators may well come under severe scrutiny over this issue. Be warned. It could well be that other offices of OLGR may elect to do an audit of all licensed premises because of this matter. Think about that!
We therefore strongly suggest that you...
1/ Review where you may have these types of machines located and immediately make prudent adjustments where necessary.
2/ Join NAMOA and receive your first 20 redemption machine labels for free.
3/ Apply the labels to all your redemption machines immediately."
For more information you can contact Terry Williams directly on 02 9606 6509.