Thu, Jul 11, 4:30am by Kevin Pitstock
The new gaming law which affects pubs and clubs in New South Wales will allow the smallest venues to operate multi-terminal gaming machines. Under the old laws, establishments were prohibited from installing the multiple terminal games, such as video blackjack and video roulette machines.
Players unfamiliar with these devices might imagine a roulette wheel surrounded by five seats. Up to five gamblers can sit and play the game at the same time. Such multi-play games count as five machines instead of one, so questions remain whether any venues will replace five poker machines with this new option.
One major departure from the pokies with multiplay devices is their higher bet limits. While the NSW laws have traditionally allowed $10 max bets on pokies, new maximum limits of $5 betting are expected soon. Video roulette and video blackjack can have up to $100 wagers.
This has caused outrage among anti-gambling lobbyists, political action groups, and pundits. They see the addition of such machines as another way to exploit problem gamblers. As this blog pointed out in a previous post on another subject last month, this is an “apples and oranges” analogy, because of the lower house edge and the slower gaming rate of the video blackjack and video roulette devices.
If anything, the loss rate on such machines would be less, though the volatility would be higher, due to smaller numbers of bets for higher denominations of money. Of course, this assumes punters are going to wager $50 or $100 per spin or hand, which simply won’t be the case. If players make comparable wagers on a multi-terminal gaming machine or the pokies, that player is much better off with the multi-player option.
Those who warn about these machines say bars and clubs would never install these machines and take out 5 pokies if they couldn’t make more money on them. This overlooks the individual circumstances of the venues being discussed. One might prefer to replace five machines with one for the sake of space in a small building. Though a multi-terminal machine might take up more space than one pokie, it’s more space-effective than 5 pokies.
Also, the issue of player enjoyment is also at stake. The more types of gambling machines you offer, the wider your potential customer base. Any given pub or club is going to have a certain number of punters who love blackjack or roulette, but find pokies boring. Adding the video roulette or video 21 gaming option is going to attract more potential players.
It’s still uncertain whether any small gaming venues in New South Wales will install these machines. Some industry experts have suggested not one pub or club in New South Wales will have one within the year. Anthony Ball, chief executive of ClubsNSW, said, “I would not be surprised if in 12 months’ time not a single small club has taken up the option to remove five traditional pokies in order to purchase a five-terminal gaming machine.”
If they do, you can expect anti-gambling crusaders to complain these machines are particularly exploitative. Those interested in the debate should take a look at the numbers before accepting a simplistic view of the matter.
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