Right Result

The suspension of the Italian testing agencies continued last month as the country’s gaming monopoly, the AAMS, decided not to re-issue their licences to test workflow go through the roof. The company has increased the number of manufacturers it deals with in terms of Italian software developers and assemblers at an ever increasing rate. “The AAMS has asked us for an increasing level of visibility in relation to what is happening within poker games,” said GLI’s Roger Farrell. “We’ve been tasked to supply detailed documentation about the motherboard and raise comments in order to assist them to gain more knowledge about the machines in the field. ” Cases of operators manipulating data to their advantage have been recorded, with stores in the Italian press of missing millions when an operator disconnected their machines from the network. But with the changes to the law with Comma 6A, this is no longer possible. “Right now there’s no technical requirement to operate while being connected,” explained Mr. Farrell. “If you conspire to modify data, garbage is fed into the machine and garbage comes out in terms of data.

There’s nothing wrong with the games we’re testing, it’s the system that can be manipulated. ” 6A goes some way to fixing the problem with the certification of certain elements, namely the communication between the smartcard and the machine connection, which must be certified as a unit for the system to work. The new smartcard is part of a communication environment for the verification of software and motherboard, which must obey a command from the smartcard to switch off the game. It’s still not a perfect solution, with holes remaining in the environment, but according to Mr. Farrell, it’s a major step forward to ensuring greater security. “The licensing of manufactures is another major leap,” stated Mr. Farrell. “Controlling manufacturers and the conditions of participation means that you gain control over supply, which is a first for Europe. Lithuania is the only other country where a licence is asked for by the government. ” There are five elements to this licensing process, whereby the company must have been in existence for a minimum of five years, have a clean record, must nominate each person handling the protocol, and the signed a specific anti-mafia document.

Mr. Farrell has high hopes that these measures, in combination with the new Comma 6A law, will help to stabilize the market. “Italy has come a long way in just two years,” said Mr. Farrell. “170,000 machines on site and connected is an impressive achievement: Comma 6A another huge step in the right direction. Of course, these changes have been driven ultimately by economic pressure to maintain the impressive tax figures from this industry. With a 13 per cent turnover tax and 75 per cent of the players, a lift in the prize and the stakes plus a longer game cycle, gives designers greater scope to create more interesting games for the player. And I also believe that Comma 6A is something of a stalking horse for VLT introduction, since the government has indicated its desire for a VLT system in Italy. ” Asked to explain the government’s decision to clear the market of older machines, Mr. Farrell stated: “The government has implemented a ‘Sunset Clause  for existing machines, whereby the day the new law comes into being, these clauses will kick in:

2004 machines expire within 180 days
2005 machines expire in 270 days
2006 machines expire in 360 days.
Operators approving their games now have 12 months to operate them. The alternative to sunset clause is to see every game removed from the market at the same time. ” The new law was expected to be introduced around the time of Italy’s election, but due to the chaos in the Parliament, no one was sure when this would  happen as G3 went to press. “Doing business is not easy in this country and it’s especially difficult for non-Italian companies. However, comma 6A will make life a lot better for those  looking to take advantage of the environment here,” said Mr. Farrell.

*   Barcrest Group exhibited  once again on the stand of its Italian distributor, Elettronolo at the Spring ENADA exhibition. The partners took the opportunity to show an early video gaming product ahead of the new Comma 6A law. Barcrest unveiled the Italian version of its Solus video cabinet, combining Italian design flair with Barcrest’s reliable mPUS technology. The cabinet housed a sample suite of video games, created by Barcrest Games ’ video team and designed to give a glimpse of its Comma 6A game. Willem Korteweg. Director of European Sales, explained: “The combination of cabinet design and production by Elettronolo and Barcrest internals is the future for us in Italy. Reel-based gaming is dead. We have the final reel game here at the show, but the market now belongs to video. I expect we will be ready to show a new video product for the Comma 6A law at the Rome ENADA. ”

The decision by Spain’s Azkoyen to sell direct to the Italian market, following years of successful partnership with Edue Italia, has changed the face of the Italian validation company, with a new team responsible for its note validation business in domestic and international markets. “In Italy, our catalogue of products has altered, but for export nothing has changed,” explained Edue’s William lori at the Spring ENADA show. “We are working upon a wider catalogue that concentrates on export markets. We are further developing a new range of bill acceptors with new functions, though at present we are not able to give any details,” said Mr.lori. Edue has found recent success with its stackers for bill acceptors in the vending industry in South America, where its rugged product has proved to be very reliable. Edue opened its own branch in Buenos Aires a little over one year ago to serve Colombia, Brazil, Argentina etc. with products dedicated to those markets. “We are looking to different markets that I would not describe as niche, since countries such as "razil are huge. Meanwhile, Italy continues to be a reasonable market, in which we have a new family of kiosk printers for betting terminal ticket printing. ”

New law limits videogame sales

It’s not just touchscreen games that have been affected by the Italian government’s decision to homologate amusement products throughout the country. Videogames have also been similarly afflicted. Tecnoplay, has a long history of operating and distributing video pokar games in its home market, “It’s taken us two months to homologate three games,” said Tecnoplay’s mauro Zaccaria at the ENADA Spring show. “In the end we managed to cut through the bureaucracy, but we’ve found that the law is limiting what we can sell in the amusement sector. Kits, for example, are impossible to homologate. And every time we homologate, it takes time and money to send a machine to Rome. ” Under such condition, it’s now extremely important that each game performs well in the market, due to the costs involved in the homologation process. “We can’t risk homologating a machine that will only sell a handful of pieces in the market,” stated Mr. Zaccaria. “In comparison, AWPs are cheaper and earn more money, while videogames are more expensive and generate less money. ” In a market that’s struggling control of its gaming business, it’s ironic that the strain is being felt hardest in the amusement sector. “It is easier to sell AWPs right now, but Tecoplay has a long history in the videogames business, and we will continue to support it,” confirmed Mr. Zaccaria. “However, I hope things get better, particularly were it concerns the scope of the AAMS. The monopoly is fighting against a lot of people as they go through a steep learning curve in order to understand this industry. ”

Right now, Tecnoplay has homologated and is selling Sega’s House of the dead 4 in 52ins and 62ins cabinets (which were kindly homologated as one machine, though the 29ins. game had to be homologated separately). Tecnoplay sold 24 pieces at the end of November, just before the homologation process kicked in, and expects to seal more once the AAMS has checked over everything. Around Italy HOTD4 is performing well, with many sites looking to install further examples. “We also have permission to sell Ford Racing, but have to choose the games carefully,” said Mr. Zaccaria. It costs 4,000 euros to homologate each machine, a cost that is borne by the distributor. “It’s not only a matter of cost, it’s about the effort and time involved in homologating each machine,” said Mr. Zaccaria. And despite the ability to sell, Mr. Zaccaria confirmed that there was little interest in the market right now as the new gaming poker law and had frozen the marketplace. “During the last three months or more, no one has bought a thing, but we are now seeing some interest from the customers, and have been selling a lot of pinball’s; but then there’s no bureaucracy with a pinball; but then there’s no bureaucracy with a pinball and no homologation. Buying a pinball is easy, it’s rated in the same category as an electromechanical pusher. But then there’s no market for pushers either, since Italy is full for pushers, which never breakdown,” said Mr. Zaccaria.