Friday, August 28, 2009

Poker Cheat Machines in Australia Get Protection!

Imagine walking into a casino and being told that "some of the poker machines cheat you, but we're not gonna tell you which ones. You have to figure it out on your own." Sounds pretty rotten, huh? But that is kind of what is going on in Australia.

We're talking about pokies, the poker machine games that "cheat" plaayers out of their money more than any others - but you aren't allowed to know which ones they are. Eight of the 134 games approved since December 2007 have a level of volatility which is higher than what is recommended by the Australia/New Zealand Gaming Machine National Standard, but their names remain secret. While all poker machine games must have a return to player of at least 87.5 per cent, games with a low volatility pay out a larger number of small prizes. However, highly volatile games pay out a smaller number of large prizes.

Freedom of Information documents state there are eight games with a volatility higher than 15 but their names must remain secret because the information is "commercially sensitive". It is, however, not clear how many machines these games are operating. Independent MP Kris Hanna said these games were cheating gamblers. "While some receive higher jackpots, there is less return to players in between payouts," he said. "The machines are already addictive enough without extra tricks. Gamblers should be told which games pay out lessfrequently."

The Australia/New Zealand Gaming Machine National Standard recommends the nominal standard deviation of a game be no more than 15. Independent Gambling Authority director Robert Chappell said he was not concerned about the claims because the regulation was a guideline. "This particular fact doesn't concern me," he said.
"It's a welcome development that the regulators have put limits on volatility because it enables us to be better assured games will resolve at their true return to player."

Australian Hotels Association SA general manager Ian Horne said if Mr Chappell wasn't concerned, then no one should be. "If the independent regulator has no concerns and they are qualified in this material, why would Kris Hanna have any concerns other than to cause mischief," he said. "We have total confidence in the integrity of the approval system and anyone who suggests there is some manipulation here is being deliberately provocative for political gain."