SYDNEY clubs are introducing a new swipe card system that
allows their patrons to have a cigarette without losing their poker
The system means players can lock the poker machine they are using for
up to 12 minutes by swiping their membership cards and entering a PIN.
The machine can only be unlocked if 12 minutes expires or the same
membership card is swiped on the poker machine again.
If the reserve time period lapses the money left on the machine is
transferred to the membership card and can be used on another machine.
Standard machines allow players to "reserve" the machine for up to
three minutes and does not lock the machine.
Clubs which have bought the BreakAway system include Mount Pritchard
District Community Club, Harbord Diggers Memorial Club, Eastern Suburbs
Leagues Club, Epping RSL, Dee Why RSL Club, Club Burwood, Mingara
Recreation Club, Liverpool Catholic Club, and the Mosman Returned
Distributors of the system, eBet said it was designed to help clubs
combat the negative impact of the indoor smoking ban introduced on July
Registered clubs are expected to take a battering on revenue - mostly
from poker machines - dropping by up to 11.2 per cent (or about $300
million) in the first year as players are forced to smoke outside.
eBet CEO Tony Toohey said market response to BreakAway had exceeded
ClubsNSW spokesman Jeremy Bath said the BreakAway system would allow
smokers to continue to enjoy clubs - including the gaming rooms - while
still abiding by the state's indoor smoking ban.
"It's not exclusively smokers but there's no doubt that the indoor
smoking ban has been a factor in this technology," Mr Bath said.
"Four to five minutes is not enough time for a person who is playing a
game to walk to an outdoor area, have a cigarette or two and come
Action on Smoking and Health Australia spokeswoman Anne Jones said the
BreakAway system would be positive because it could lead to a reduction
in both smoking and problem gambling.
"A study that I've seen shows that (patrons) smoke more and gamble more
because they're in a trance-like state when they are playing the
pokies. This gives them a break," she said.
Mr Bath said just a week into the indoor smoking ban, there was
evidence of a significant decline in club patronage and spending on
food and drink.
"It is too early to tell how the ban is affecting 1400 clubs across the
state, but it would appear that clubs suffered a loss of revenue - some
a few per cent and others up to 15 per cent," he said.