Implied Gaming
by Joe Mayer

Implied Gaming
By Joe Mayer

Late last year the Gaming Machines Act of 2001 was passed by NSW Parliament, it contained a series of measures designed to help solve the problem of problem gambling. Amongst them was a limit of gaming related promotion prizes to items under the value of $1,000 and no cash. The availability to players of Player Activity Statements giving the player details of the play, playing times, wins and losses.

Let me be the first to say, responsible conduct of gaming regulations have gone to far, it has gone beyond protecting the small minority of gamblers who do have problems and is putting a choke hold on the gaming industry. In saying that, law is law and regulations have to be abided by whether we agree with them or not.

Amongst other regulated measures was the limit on gaming related advertising to internally of venues only, the excact wording of the act is below:

44 Prohibition on displaying gambling related signs
(1) A hotelier or registered club must not display or cause to be displayed any gambling related sign:
(a) anywhere outside or in the vicinity of the hotel or club, or
(b) anywhere inside the hotel or club so that it can be seen from outside the hotel or club.
(6) In this section:
gambling related sign means any sign (whether consisting of words, symbols, pictures or any other thing):
(a) that draws attention to, or can reasonably be taken to draw attention to, the availability of approved gaming machines in a hotel or registered club, or
(b) that uses a term or expression frequently associated with gambling, or
(c) that relates to a gambling franchise or gambling business,

I wish to talk about a term that has stemmed from this act “Implied Gaming” what advertising and more particularly external signage is allowed by the act and what is prohibited, or implies gaming.

I wish to give you an example of what I think is implied gaming, I doubt any of the knowledgeable readers of this website would disagree with me though many I am sure would be able to argue the point with me. I pick a venue in the centre of Sydney so those who choose to do so can look at it.

The venue in question is located near the corner of Goulbourn and George St, just on the edge of China Town, it is a well known Irish Pub with an extremely busy and successful gaming room targeting the local Asian market.

Previously to the Gaming Machine Act coming in to force the gaming lounge was called “Golden Dragon Gaming Lounge” with a green sign depicting a fire breathing dragon in the Asian style. The same style of dragon is depicted inside the venue in its Link Jackpot signage. With the introduction of the Act the venue changed the name of the gaming room to “Golden Dragon Lounge” utilizing the same fire breathing dragon artwork.

This is implied gaming! The act prohibits a sign “that relates to a gambling franchise or gambling business” the Golden Dragon is a gaming business. The act also prohibits a sign “that draws attention to, or can reasonably be taken to draw attention to, the availability of approved gaming machines in a hotel or registered club” the name Golden Dragon draws attention to the availability of gaming machines.

This is by no means an isolated problem, take a drive around Sydney, you will see signs for “VIP” lounges, “______ Lounges” where you can still faintly see the word gaming behind. You will see neon dollar signs with arrows pointing to doorways and many, many more breaches of the act

My intention is not to expose or humiliate any venues, nor is it to attract the attention of the inspectors of the Dept. of Gaming & Racing. I wish only to highlight a problem in the hotel industry in NSW that can only lead to more regulations and a tougher market place to work in.

When the industry started to hear about the proposed changes to the regulations and the new act there where terms such as “self regulation” being thrown around. How can an industry that has shown itself offer the last few months to be deceitful and underhanded be trusted to “self regulate”. An industry that is lead by a body, the AHA, which has been as affective in defending hotel gaming as an English batsman defending his wicket.

I digress but I must highlight the ineptitude of this organization, a few months ago a prominent current affair program ran a story about how much money poker machine cost the community. After the usual suspects exaggerating the statistics of problem gambling a leading manufacture appeared and told the viewing public in more words “play pokies at clubs or the casino you have a better chance of winning”. Then a senior representative from the club industry appeared and told all who care to listen about the virtues of club land and how you had better odds of wining in a club over a hotel.

Where was the AHA representative, nowhere to be seen. They where either not invited, because they represent an industry that can not be trusted. Or they chose not to participate, even the AHA could not be that stupid! Or could they?

If we as an industry do not pull our socks up and tow the line all that will happen is the government will regulate the industry more, and more, and more. We have already lost 3 trading hours a day, by the end of this financial year we will be down another 3. The government, backed by the club industry, will put the squeeze on hotels. No one can doubt we have more poker machine then we need in NSW “hotels got them last lets take them away from hotels, they can not follow basic responsible conduct of gaming regulations” will come the cry from club land.

I personally would still like to have a Hotel gaming industry to work in 3 years from now. Unfortunately knowing hoteliers and there stubborn dinosaur like attitude to change, backed by the AHA, the hotel gaming industry could be in real trouble. I therefore send out this plea to those in Club land “come rescue me from this sinking ship” I have a family to provide for, my love for the hotel gaming industry will not put food on the table. I think the time to consider a transfer to the winning team in NSW gaming is soon approaching.

Date Posted: 01-Dec-2002

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