Xbox-style hi-tech poker machines to target young Oz gamblers

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Melbourne, April 22 : Aussie poker industry is planning to rake in more and more young gamblers by introducing hi-tech poker machines with Xbox-style graphics.

The use of better graphics and interactive technology will make such machines as versatile as a home computer, and more appealing to junior punters.

The idea to have hi-tech pokies was discussed at a recent Future Trends in Gaming conference in Queensland.

"I don't think (gaming rooms) are an environment Generation Y wants to be in. They get bored easily," the Daily Telegraph quoted Justin Brown of Aristocrat Leisure Industries as saying.

"How do we get them into venues? Group activities and games are the way of the future - as are challenges and tournaments," Brown added.

A spokesman for Aristocrat has confirmed that Brown had made the statement.

The plan was supported by Ross Ferrar of the Australasian Gaming Machine Manufacturers Association, who said that gaming machines needed to be updated to be more in line with 21st century technology.

"At the end of the day where all this is headed is making the equipment more similar to mass IT equipment. Gen Y wants to do things like change the background colour or put their favourite character in," he said.

The plan has not gone down well with anti-pokie advocates, who condemned it as a manoeuvre to rope in new gamblers.

"It is fundamental to their business plan to target (Generation Y), there is so much money at stake," World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello said.

Alarmed by the latest plan of the industry, the State Government has commissioned a study into help for junior gambling addicts.

A recent report had suggested that young men, who left school at year 10, were over-represented among problem gamblers.

"I am concerned that research has shown that problem gamblers are more likely to be 18 to 24-year-old males," a spokeswoman for Gaming Minister Graham West said.

The Government has plans to launch an Internet-cum-SMS campaign to educate young gamblers.

Ferrar attributed the development of more user-friendly machines to younger gaming designers.

"It may be more appealing to Gen Y but it's also about making the game as entertaining as possible to everyone," he said.

He also revealed that one would have to pass through a10-step process for gaining approval for new games, which may take up to three years.

ANI

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