New live gaming machine trial comes to Victoria

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Victorian woman stole cash for pokies given prison sentence

A new live trial framework to support the introduction of new and innovative electronic gaming machine types and games has been approved in Victoria.

Yogonet reports that the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has approved a proposed framework that provides a “defined and structured approach” to testing in a live environment, the commission said.

By approving this framework, the VCGLR aims to ensure the games do not contribute to player harm.

“This trial enables us to gather intelligence to determine whether electronic gaming machine types or games are suitable for approval in Victoria.”

The framework features a set of key conditions that may be applicable to the live trial, including general operational conditions outlining minimum requirements in terms of trial period length, suitable trial locations and the importance of general player observation.

The live trial determined quantitative requirements in relation to data, which may be captured from the electronic gaming machine and/or the central monitoring system to highlight the EGMs’ performance in isolation and when compared to a similar EGM in the trial environment.

The gambling commissions also proposed qualitative requirements in relation to capturing player intelligence through surveys to inform an assessment of the players’ view of game performance and potential harm.

Once an EGM type or game is determined for trial, the commission will publish its terms of trial and trial locations on its website “to provide external stakeholders with transparency”.

This follows other recent Victorian government plans to regulate gambling.

In early August, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission was announced to be overtaking the regulation of gaming from the VCGLR and has inherited oversight of all gambling activities statewide, including at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

Online gambling spend surges

A study conducted in mid-2020 found that gamblers were spending more and gambling more during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online wagering, the fastest growing segment of gambling in Australia, saw its biggest segment, men aged 18 to 34, spend $1075 a month gambling, up from $687.

For gamblers, the biggest bias is that they remember their wins more than their losses, known as selective recall.

Feedback that clearly shows them their losses can counteract this.

This is, no doubt, why many online wagering service providers don’t give feedback to their customers at all.

Those that do tend to use “activity statements” that present a long list of transactions that are often hard to navigate and so don’t help gamblers appreciate just how well, or more likely poorly, they are doing.

Making gambling companies provide such feedback in a clear, comprehensive form is something that policy makers should put high on their reform list.

To find the best solution to this problem, the federal Department of Social Services commissioned the Australian government’s Behavioural Economics Team (BETA) to trial feedback online gamblers get from their wagering activities.

Opt-out could be the way forward?

A study of 40,000 gamblers in Australia found that a government ‘opt-out’ policy saw a radical shift in online betting behaviour.

The study, conducted by the Gambling Treatment and Research Clinic (GTRC) at the University of Sydney, also found that when not required to, the overwhelming majority of online gambling customers did not use voluntary tools designed to limit problem gambling.

The research into leading Australian gambling sites found that of the 6,000 people who used deposit limits, a majority stuck to their limit during the course of a year, while one in four changed their limit to make it less restrictive and one in eight decreased or removed the limit altogether.

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