“Lessons learned” by technology supplier Aristocrat Leisure Ltd from Australia’s first market trial of cashless gaming, are “being factored into the next generation of technology,” says Trevor Croker (pictured), the group’s chief executive and managing director.
The comments were in the Australia-listed company’s sustainability disclosures for financial year ending September 30.
The gaming machine cashless trial involving an electronic wallet called Prime, developed by Aristocrat, was at a venue called Wests Newcastle in New South Wales (NSW). The trial was overseen by the state gaming regulator, Liquor & Gaming NSW.
Aristocrat noted in its sustainability report that it was set up as a nine-month tryout involving 144 electronic gaming machines, and 260 participating players, and that the trial “ended on 30 June 2023”.
It had been widely reported in June in the Australian media that a ransomware attack had been detected toward the end of the trial, aimed at Banktech, an organisation providing digital payment processing for the cashless setup. Banktech is said to have told the operators of the Wests venue that no personal data had been compromised.
Wests said at the time: “The service provider, responsible for the digital wallet infrastructure, has taken immediate action by engaging the expertise of a security specialist, to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.”
A police investigation was also launched. The NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing, David Harris, told reporters at the time that the local government was “committed to the establishment of an independent panel of experts” to oversee a broader cashless gaming trial in the state.
Aristocrat mentioned in its sustainability report a number of responsible-gaming controls featured in the cashless exercise.
“Aristocrat’s Prime digital wallet technology delivered a suite of new and sophisticated RG [responsible gaming] tools to players, in addition to cashless transaction options,” said the supplier.
“Players were able to set limits, view their player activity statement and request self-exclusion – all from their mobile phones.”
The firm stated that key lessons from the trial included the need to simplify the setup process for players.
In addition, “the trial revealed that players were content to use existing gaming functionality and were reluctant to use new functionality.”
“For those that did use the cashless system, there was little change to enjoyment of gambling or change in their gambling behaviour,” noted Aristocrat.
It added: “Players in the trial reported that they generally avoided the RG limit-setting tools because they already set their own personal limits. However, players held positive views about their availability.”
Aristocrat mentioned that the New South Wales regulator appointed independent researcher Professor Paul Delfabbro, from the University of Adelaide, in South Australia, to design the trial methodology and evaluate the findings.
According to Aristocrat’s sustainability update, a report on the trial by Professor Delfabbro was submitted to the NSW regulator in September.
A spokesperson for Liquor & Gaming NSW said on Thursday in response to GGRAsia’s request for a copy of the report: “The report on the cashless gaming trial at Wests Newcastle is undergoing peer review and is yet to be finalised.”
Aristocrat has said it might conduct further cashless trials in financial year 2024.
The New South Wales Crime Commission had stated in a report publicised in October last year, that “billions” of Australian dollars were possibly being laundered via gaming machines in the state, and that cashless play might be a route to curbing such activity.
(Updated Dec 7, 1.20pm)
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