The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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Services › Electronic Monitoring System › Questions and Answers

What is the design of the Electronic Monitoring System (EMS)?

The main functional components of the EMS are shown in the diagram below.

EMS system overview diagram

Site Controller

This is located at the venue and sits between the EMS Central Host and the gaming machines at the venue. It connects to the gaming machines via a fibre optic cable and collects the events and meter data of all connected gaming machines. The Site Controller then sends this data to the EMS Host during predefined polling sessions or upon request. The Site Controller uses a standard protocol for communication with gaming machines called the QCOM protocol.

EMS WAN (Wide Area Network)

This consists of a secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) that uses Internet Protocol (IP) addressing to connect all the Site Controllers to the EMS Host. This will be a managed network using a dedicated wireless connection to the Site Controller via a router at the site. In the few locations where we are unable to provide a wireless link an alternative method of connection will be provided.

EMS Host System

This consists of a centralised computing and processing facility located in Wellington (with a back-up system in Auckland). The basic functions of the EMS host system are:
  • Acquisition, validation and processing of gaming data acquired from venue site controllers
  • Provision of configuration and profile data to venue site controllers
  • Provision of a Data Warehouse for queries and reporting
  • Interfacing to the Department’s Licensing system.

EMS website

General information for the public and societies/venues is available on this website: Societies and venues can log in to the EMS Reporting Site from here.

EMS reporting website

The Society/Venue part of the EMS reporting website will supply pre-generated reports, using data acquired from venue site controllers. It will be up to venues and societies to access this information from the website.

EMS Help Desk

Intralot administers a centralised Help Desk to provide a single point of contact for the resolution, escalation, tracking and closure of all incidents, problems and requests for service for the entire EMS system: 0800 468 725

What about the integrity of the data recorded by EMS?

Data collection and GMP

The Gaming Machine Profit (GMP) data calculated by EMS will be the definitive record of actual venue level GMP. EMS uses data transmitted electronically (using the QCOM protocol) via a direct link between the venue site controller and the gaming machines. The EMS system has been designed to ensure that this collection and calculation is accurate.

Gaming Laboratories International (an accredited testing facility) has independently certified the EMS system as a part of the testing phases of the project. The objective of this Certification testing was to ensure accurate, secure and complete collection and reporting of information from gaming machines connected to EMS.

Site Controllers

The site controller has a number of features designed to ensure integrity of collected data. These include:
  • The Site Controller automatically restarting after a loss of power without manual intervention
  • The Site Controller storing all received events, meter data, configuration, and control variables in its non-volatile storage media
  • Electronic detection of access. Unauthorised access to the Site Controller cabinet will disable all the connected gaming machines
  • Self-testing during power-up and reset to prevent possible corruption if there is a failure of the storage media
  • Power up or upon request, memory and storage area checks for possible corruption.
The design of the Site Controller is focused on ensuring continuous operation independent of any regular communication with the EMS host. The Site Controller has enough non-volatile storage to keep events and meter data for a minimum of 31 days. Should the Site Controller’s non-volatile storage become full, the Site Controller will start saving meter and events data to the hard disk instead.

In order to assure data integrity during transfer and storage a special algorithm will be applied to all critical stored files. The Site Controller can also verify the integrity of the gaming machine software in use at the venue.

Why do societies need to provide BVNs and what are these?

The "base" software for a gaming machine has a built-in identifier referred to as the Base Version Game Number (BVGN or BVN).

When a particular game software is approved by the Department it is linked to a particular base for licensing purposes and the Department issues a Base Approval Number (BAN) for that approved base software. The EMS must receive a valid BVN as well as other details about the software from the Department’s licensing system for the gaming machine to operate.

To prepare for the implementation of EMS a letter was sent to Class 4 licence holders asking them to supply the BVNs of existing QCOM compliant machines. These BVNs will be input into the EMS.

The Class 4 Amendment and New Operator application forms have been amended to request the BAN for each gaming machine being installed or modified. Future QCOM upgrades or installs will capture the BAN information directly from the application form during the Licensing process. Manufacturers have now been provided with information that references current BVNs to the respective BANs issued by the Department.

Will Jackpot Controllers be connected to EMS?

There are basically two types of approved Jackpot Controllers.

One type downloads Jackpot win information to the gaming machine it is connected to. This information is then recorded with the gaming machine win data and will be captured by the Site Controller. This type of Jackpot Controller is known as a 'downloadable jackpot' and does not need a connection to the Site Controller.

The other type stores the jackpot win information in the Jackpot Controller itself but does not download this to the gaming machine (this is known as a non-downloadable jackpot). Therefore this type of Jackpot Controller requires connection to the Site Controller for EMS to record these details.

The Department intends to connect this second type of existing Jackpot Controller (that does not download wins to the Gaming machine) to EMS. This is to ensure the amounts recorded by these Jackpots are factored into the GMP calculation for the venue. To do this an interface capability to allow connection to the Site Controller needs to be developed that will work with each type of (non-downloadable) Jackpot Controller.

What reports will be provided by EMS?

The EMS website will provide the means for accessing and distributing information collected by the EMS System to Department of Internal Affairs' users, Class 4 Licence holders and venue personnel. Access to information and reports will depend on the security classification provided to each user account. Reports will be available to be either printed or downloaded into an application for processing – depending on the reporting option selected by the Licence holder.

The Site Controller will take a 'snapshot' of meter and event information from the gaming machines at the venue at 2:00am every day. The EMS host then polls all Site Controllers and collects, processes and outputs information about the gaming activity in the EMS network. Meter and GMP information is published to the EMS website. We expect polling and host processing to be completed in time for publishing to the website by 9:00am each day.

While a range of requirements for reports are included in the EMS design, final confirmation of the detail of reporting functions and report formats and content will not be possible until after the various phases of EMS testing have been completed. It is planned to complete testing by March 2006 after which a pilot of the system will be undertaken at several sites.

Reports currently included in the EMS design are specified to include GMP, Turnover and Total Wins meter data at both a venue and society level. There are a number of other reports not described here that will be used by the Department for regulatory, administrative and management purposes.

Can we get venue access to Meter Data?

The cabling re-arrangements necessary to connect the jackpot system to the site controller mean that venues will no longer be able to access jackpot information or current meter values for gaming machine QCOM meters on demand. In many cases access will no longer be necessary and the same information will be available on the EMS website from 8.00am daily.

However, venues that require access to jackpot information on demand (e.g. for non-downloadable jackpots) will need to cable the venue PC to the site controller, and install a special software special application called "Electronic Meter Access" (EMA). This application allows a venue to access the same jackpot information they previously had access to throughout the day. It also enables current meter values for gaming machine QCOM meters to be similarly viewed or downloaded.

To use this functionality, the venue will require a computer with a spare serial port (no modem), running either a Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP operating system. The venue must have a serial cable and connectors (in accordance with the RS-232 specification) to connect the venue computer to the site controller interface. It must be possible for the venue to connect and retrieve current meters from the gaming machines and hand-pay jackpot system.

Earlier versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems are not supported.

EMA software can be downloaded straight from the EMS Reporting website once the venue has been enrolled in the system. The software, EMA.exe (Electronic Meter Access application), is used to request and retrieve QCOM Group 0 and Group 1 meters and required jackpot audit meters files where Fortune, Translux or Mikohn non-downloadable jackpot controllers are in operation. The venue computer can make up to 20 requests per day per file. Intralot New Zealand's EMA Manual provides further details about the operation of the venue Electronic Meter Access application.

Note: The jackpot information provided is only that for that day. Historical information (e.g. jackpot wins) for previous days are obtained from the website reports.

Where a venue chooses not to use the Electronic Meter Access application to request and retrieve electronic meters then:
  1. Gaming machine meters can be accessed and recorded manually in gaming machine audit mode.
  2. If jackpot meters are not directly accessible by a venue computer connected directly to the jackpot controller, the jackpot manufacturer or their authorised agent will need to be contacted to electronically retrieve and record these meters.

What's involved in the EMS roll out?

The roll out schedule showing connection dates for each venue is on this website. Societies have been advised of the main activities they need to ensure are completed at each of their venues at least six weeks prior to that venue being connected to EMS.

In summary these activities are to:
  1. Ensure that all gaming machines are QCOM enabled
  2. Ensure that the venue is cabled with fibre optic cabling according to the minimum technical standard released by the Department
  3. Identify a secure location for the site controller
  4. Install a dedicated power cable from the meter board to the site controller
  5. Install the telecommunications connection to the EMS WAN.
There will be two parts to the EMS connection process. The first part involves the Site Controller being installed and hooked up to the EMS WAN and fibre loop. This work will be completed during a 15 day period referred to as the 'Intralot' dates in the 'EMS connection dates' schedule published on the Department’s website. The venue’s gaming machines will continue operation as usual during this activity and up until the date specified for the venue's actual change over to operation on EMS – this is referred to as the 'Secretaries' date.

On the Secretaries date, gaming machines will need to be out of operation while the venue personnel and service technicians perform the final activities to change the gaming machines over to QCOM operating mode and to operation on EMS.

What about the effect of EMS on venue costs?

The Gambling (Electronic Monitoring Fees) Regulations 2006 established a monitoring fee for each gaming machine connected to EMS. The current fee, effective from 1 February 2008, is $1.35 (GST inc) per day. There is also a $51.50 + gst per venue per month telecommunications charge - this charge is part of the contract between societies and Intralot.

What is the standard for processing licensing of Gambling Equipment during the EMS establishment?

90 per cent of licences to be issued within 20 working days from the date of receipt of a properly completed application.

Can EMS and non-EMS gaming machines both be in operation at a venue prior to March 2007?

The Gambling Act 2003 [Section 86 (5)] states that "The holder of a class 4 operators licence must not operate gaming machines after the date or dates notified to the holder by the Secretary unless the machines are connected to an electronic monitoring system specified by the Secretary".