Much has happened in gaming this week, with Peter Hurley questioning the ban on gaming as venues re-open, and AGE announcing that its 2020 show has been cancelled.

Respected South Australian publican and former president of AHA SA and the national arm, Peter Hurley, has decried the decision by many states to not allow gaming rooms to operate as part of the staged re-opening of pubs. His home state of South Australia, like most others, have held off on allowing gaming rooms to begin operations, and Hurley has questioned the logic of the decision.

“I am mystified as to why the partial re-opening didn’t include gaming rooms, with the normal protocols of distancing and allocated areas. In my view, it’s indicative of a certain elitism by those making the rules. Elitism manifests itself in different ways.”

Hurley also questioned the logic of the decision, making the case that in supermarkets and large retail offerings like Bunnings, customers can touch thousands of items of stock, and it is harder for those retailers to keep those items clean than it would be for a gaming room of with a maximum of 40 EGMs.

Several of the pubs within the Hurley Hotel Group each have 30-40 EGMs, and the pub operator says having them all shutdown is having a huge impact on the business.

“I’ve used the expression for many years that ‘You get 90 per cent of your profit from your top 10 per cent of revenue.’ I never realised until we’d lost about 60-70 per cent of our revenue how absolutely accurate that is,” stated Hurley.

“As soon as you lose 50-60 per cent of your revenue, you lose 100 per cent of your profit, plus a lot more. We’ve been running at big losses now for nine and a half weeks, and that takes a bit of absorbing.”

AGE postponed until 2021

Organisers of the Australasian Gaming Expo (AGE)  have announced that this year’s event has now been cancelled, after the ban on large gatherings has been extended to 14 August.

“The government did announce a three-stage easing roadmap, but even when fully implemented that roadmap does not allow for more than 100 people to attend a venue such as ICC Sydney”, said Chris Muir, CEO of the Gaming Technologies Association (GTA).

The 31st AGE will now run from 10 to 12 August 2021.

While many exhibitors were disappointed by the news, many are still keen to showcase their new products and innovations, and have begin work on  COVID-safe products.

“We’ve already seen some significant initiatives from AGE exhibitors as they support businesses with technology and physical distancing measures,” said Muir, “and we’ll continue to connect buyers with sellers, as our industry slowly starts its road-to-recovery.”

Gaming  and social distancing

The gaming industry has already been at work creating social distancing solutions for gaming rooms to ensure that patrons of safety and staff.

IGT has created iSolate, an intelligent software that patron finishes their playing session, the machines either side are auto-activated and an urgent page is sent to a nearby gaming attendant to sanitise the machine before the next player arrives.

For a longer-term solution to counter patron wariness, Paul Kelly Design Gaming has created Gaming Guard, a clear acrylic screen that will a, allow players to sit next to one another, while still feeling protected from close contact.

These innovations have been made in direct response to the needs of pubs with gaming rooms to get their offerings back online in a safe way, and to get revenue returning after months of stifled turnover.

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