By Andy Young

Ross Ferrar, the CEO of the Gaming Technologies Association, has responded to an article in the Australian Financial Review (AFR), saying that he is "puzzled that constructive dialogue has been misrepresented".

The response centres around a story in the AFR in which it says that Wesfarmers, which operates 3069 gaming machines through Coles and its Spirit Hotels chain, had written to five key poker machine manufacturers asking them to reconfigure the machines to help execute a trial of $1 bet limits on its machines. The report says that all the manufacturers refused the request, however Ferrer said the discussions were ongoing.

“We understand a number of our members are engaged in good faith discussions with Coles (Spirit Hotels) regarding their interest in a trial of maximum $1 bets in one or more of their venues in Queensland or South Australia," Ferrer said.

“As part of this engagement, GTA members have suggested a broad range of harm minimisation measures immediately available to Coles that have been widely adopted by other operators and venues. These include machine based measures, system measures (voluntary pre-commitment, enhanced player information displays and alarms) and venue based programs."

Mr Ferrar said that the GTA is puzzled that this constructive dialogue has been misrepresented.

He added: “A trial as proposed by Coles is not a simple thing. Depending on its scope, it could require complex regulatory, technical and manufacturing input. It would likely entail significant time, cost and resources to build, test and deploy new equipment to the standards of integrity and performance required. 

“GTA members are strongly committed to harm minimisation and stand ready to assist Coles – as we would all customers – in providing effective options to promote responsible gaming. The GTA also continues to be very mindful of the estimated cost to the broader industry of implementation of $1 max bets, which is well above $3 billion.”

Mr Ferrar said: “It is an indisputable fact that Australia has amongst the lowest maximum bets in the world for poker machines and that speed of play in Australia is amongst the slowest in the world. Our industry remains committed to progressing harm minimization initiatives where they are shown to be effective.”

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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