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Adoption of QCOM as standard protocol


20 March 2002

Electronic monitoring of gaming machines:
Adoption of QCOM as standard protocol

An IMPORTANT MESSAGE for gaming machine societies and manufacturers

On 18 March 2002, the Government adopted the QCOM gaming machine protocol as the standard protocol for remote connection of electronic monitoring systems (EMS) to non-casino gaming machines within New Zealand.

Background
  • QCOM is a gaming machine protocol developed by the Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation. It is used in Queensland and has also been adopted in recent years by Northern Territory and Tasmania.
  • The protocol communicates directly with gaming machines to collect accounting and security event data. QCOM allows configuration of gaming machines, confirmation of software and disconnection of gaming machines. It can also be extended to allow jackpot and cashless equipment to have secure access to gaming machines.
  • QCOM is well developed, flexible and has excellent technical support available. It has been widely endorsed by the gaming sector in New Zealand.
  • The Department of Internal Affairs is currently working with Aristocrat, one of the largest suppliers of gaming machines to the New Zealand market, to have QCOM installed in their next generation of equipment. The Department is also working with other manufacturers on their adoption of QCOM.
  • During last year’s Gaming Review, the Government agreed in principle to the installation of a central EMS to regulate and monitor all non-casino gaming machines. The QCOM protocol is a first stage in allowing EMS to be implemented.
  • However, the decision to implement a central EMS is subject to cost and implementation issues, including an assessment of the impact on the gaming machine sector. We expect that the Government will decide within the next few months whether to put a central EMS in place.

What this means for societies and manufacturers
  • The current Department of Internal Affairs policy on EMS licensing is suspended. No society-owned EMS will be licensed until Government makes its decision on central EMS. (NOTE: This suspension does not apply to pulse-based “electronic management systems” that obtain their information solely from hard meter data. For the time being, societies may continue to apply for licenses for such systems.)
  • If a central EMS is implemented, all gaming machines will have to communicate with the EMS using the QCOM protocol. No other protocol will be licensed to provide a basic monitoring service.
  • At this stage there is no obligation for societies to have QCOM enabled gaming equipment.
  • We encourage manufacturers and societies to have QCOM fitted on new models of gaming machines, or to ensure that their models can be easily and effectively retrofitted if a central EMS is implemented in future. Installing QCOM is not just a matter of hardware modifications: both hardware and software (such as games) need to be specifically designed with QCOM in mind.
  • Ongoing development is taking place to ensure the best fit of QCOM and New Zealand requirements. As a first step, QCOM has been modified to allow its inclusion in New Zealand gaming machines. Manufacturers can access additional details of New Zealand specific requirements for the QCOM protocol on the Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation website at www.qogr.qld.gov.au in the Publications and Information section – QCOM protocol New-Zealand Modification v3.
  • Manufacturers should contact the Department of Internal Affairs before installing QCOM on their gaming machines. See contact details below.
  • Gaming machines with QCOM fitted will initially have the QCOM made inactive or “disabled” after the machine is installed and configured.
  • If the Government decides to introduce central EMS for all gaming machines:
- QCOM will have to be enabled on the EMS implementation date.

- Societies will be advised of the expected implementation date, and be required either to purchase QCOM enabled machines or arrange retrofitting of existing equipment.

- It is likely that some older models of gaming machine will not be able to be retrofitted, while retrofitting of some other models may not be cost-effective. You should contact your gaming machine supplier to confirm the likely status of your equipment.

  • If the Government decides not to implement a central EMS:
- The suspension on licensing society-owned EMS will be lifted.

- The Department will provide technical standards covering the use of QCOM and the installation and operation of society-owned EMS.

- Once a society-owned EMS is licensed, QCOM- fitted machines can be enabled at the society’s discretion.

Contact

Bruce Manuge
Senior Advisor (Technical)
Gaming Licensing, Department of Internal Affairs
PO Box 805, Wellington
NEW ZEALAND
    Phone 0064 4 495 9343
    Fax 0064 4 494 0656
    E-mail bruce.manuge@dia.govt.nz

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Last updated: 27/10/2004