Carman is a QUT student studying a Bachelor of Justice/Bachelor of Laws and would like to pursue a career in policy. She spent a day with the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation learning about electronic gaming machines, how they are tested and what standards are in place to minimise the harm of gambling.
I had the opportunity to job shadow Colm, who is the Manager of Gaming Services in the Technical Services Unit of the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR). I spent the afternoon learning about the testing of Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMS), non-EGM systems and the collaboration between the OLGR’s Technical and Operations Units.
The first challenge and observation
My first challenge was to find the entrance to the building. It’s not the most visible entrance, because all of the signage is for the Registry of Births, Death and Marriages. When I found the entrance, I was greeted by Colm. What I found interesting was the level looked like it was built just for the unit. I was then asked to sign in and was given a visitor pass for the afternoon.
An overview and a surprise
What I found interesting during Colm’s overview of the OLGR was that on the surface, it was responsible for the testing and approval of gaming equipment, but also requires clients to undergo a process which involves a concept submission.
A concept submission occurs when a client has a new product idea they wish to develop, but it has not yet reached the development stage. This allows OLGR to consult with their clients to ensure final submissions are an acceptable standard and to identify any potential regulatory obstacles prior to the development phase. This means the OLGR are not using time going through submissions that lack the necessary requirements for gaming equipment. I always hear how there are strategies to address limited resources, but it was great to see those strategies in the workplace.
Before we started the overview, Colm asked what I wanted to get out of the day with the team so he could tailor the lab experience. This genuine interest in making my experience as relevant and rewarding as possible was clearly carried through with the other team members. Josh, Leon and Ben all asked questions about what I wanted to know and was sure to tailor my EGM and other gaming equipment experience.
In the classroom
Josh showed me the basics of how an EGM worked and how they tested the machines to a particular standard using a checklist. He also stressed that one of the main purposes of testing for their clients was to place the EGMs through different systemic problems. This way OLGR could test the machine’s ability to solve those problems.
Ben and Leon from the systems team then explained how other gaming equipment functioned. The most interesting thing I learnt from this area was that every component of a system was given a ‘hash’ which is a unique number to that component; these were just as unique as fingerprints. This was incredibly important as it would help an auditor find a particular component inside a system. I have little to no IT knowledge and after having been given overviews of both EGMs and Systems, I felt like I was back in the classroom learning an entirely new topic with experts giving me their best-simplified description of the technical processes in the OLGR. So I was a little nervous about whether I had understood anything when Leon asked what Josh had covered. To my surprise, when I explained what I knew about EGMs, Leon said, “You actually absorbed the technical information!” It was reassuring to know I was learning something different on this justice journey.
Seeing the bigger picture
I was made aware that creators and manufacturers of EGMs were looking at minimising harm of gambling by programming messages to pop up on the screen. For example, a message notifying the player of how much money they had spent. It was interesting to see how I almost instinctively started to internally critique this idea and thought that this might not work. The machine is assuming that a player who may be addicted to gambling is thinking rationally when this may not be the case. I realised that my thought process was mainly influenced by the skills I had learnt from my justice degree. This was extremely important to me because I could see how the skills I am learning in my degree and through my other activities at university could be used in the workplace.
It was an eye-opening experience to be able to walk through the lab where EGMs and other gaming equipment were tested. By the end of the afternoon, I understood the OLGR’s role to test the products as being significant in approving equipment that complies with strict standards. I also understood that the OLGR’s main focus is to minimise the harm caused by these products, and I believe that the strict standards reflect this idea. I am extremely grateful that Colm, Josh, Ben and Leon took the time to share their knowledge with me. I also feel very lucky that I had an opportunity to visit the testing lab as I am aware that not everyone is privy to the information that is inside the lab.