Did Western Australia Open the Door For Live Pokies?

Last week, the Western Australian parliament passed a bill that will allow the state to sell off their TAB business. However, the bill also included provisions that will allow general TAB operators to offer simulated gambling. As a result, Western Australia could see the introduction of live pokies at TAB retailers.

Parliament Votes to Sell WA TAB

Last week, the WA Parliament voted to pass the TAB (Disposal) Bill 2019. The primary purpose of the bill was to allow the sale of the state’s TAB business. Under the bill, the Government will conduct a competitive sale of the business which is expected to happen in 2020.

Proceeds for the sale will be primarily used to fund a new women’s and maternity hospital. The new hospital will get 65 percent of the sale proceeds. The rest will go to the Racing Infrastructure Fund.

HHR Pokies

Bill Also Introduces Racing Reform

The new bill will also serve as a reform bill for the existing TAB structure in Western Australia. Several amendments were made to the bill that will introduce a new licensing system for existing TAB operators.

Under the new system, operators would be allowed a single wagering license that will allow them to conduct fixed-odds and totalisator betting on races. Operators could also hold betting on events and simulated races.

Licenses for operators will be good for 40 years with a short optional extension of two years available.

New Regulations Could Lead to Introduction of Live Pokies

There are some that argue that the new regulations will lead to an introduction of live pokies at TAB establishments across the country. Western Australia is one of the strictest states in Australia and actively ensures that live pokies only exist at live casinos in Australia.

However, the allowance for simulated gaming has some believing that TAB operators will offer online pokies. How is this possible? There are various simulated racing games out there that look and feel very much like live pokies but are not quite to that level.

TAB presently offers an animated racing game called Trackside that they argue is more in common with horse racing than with pokies. Some argue that this is merely a farce and that the odds for these games are generic. They argue that winners are randomly generated and that the game is more like pokies.

Are Historical Horse Racing Machines in WA’s Future?

If you delve deeper into this area, you will see why they have a concern. For example, in the United States, there are games known as Historical Horse Racing games. These games look and primarily play like slot machines but use an odds system based on past horse races.

In the background, odds and outcomes are based on historical races and before every spin you are supposed to pick random winners. However, you don’t know which race you’re betting on or even the horses. There are also options to have these picks made automatically. When using the automatic options, which is common, the games play exactly like pokies or slot machines.

Historical Horse Racing games are viewed as skill-based games and are commonly offered in regions where live casino gambling is not permitted. Thus far, numerous establishments have operated these games with a great deal of success.

However, due to the restrictive climate of pokie gambling in Western Australia, it is difficult to see TAB establishments take the step of offering HHR simulated gambling. If it happens, expect the activity to be heavily monitored by regulators. Early on, don’t expect a large influx of these games as it will take time for some to understand the difference between HHR-style gaming and standard pokies.