|Louisiana's video poker business, which has taken in hundreds of millions of dollars from gamblers since the games first came on line in 1992, could soon be facing a $100 million makeover.|
The problem is that the central computer system that keeps track of every dollar in and out of the machines is outdated. Depending on which company wins a 10-year contract for a new $11 million system, 10,000 to 11,000 of the 14,500 machines now operating may have to be replaced.
'The bottom line is that the state needs a new computer system,' said Alton Ashy, video poker's chief lobbyist through the Louisiana Amusement and Music Operators Association. 'There's no doubt. The system they're running is 10 to 12 years old. The question is who gets it and how they do it?'
The central monitoring system has long been credited with making video poker outlets in bars, restaurants, truck stops and off-track betting parlors 'cheat-proof' as far as the state is concerned. State police have said the system is now so outdated that spare parts are almost impossible to come by. And the longer it takes to put in a new system, the greater the chances of a state wide interruption of games that brought in $166 million in state and local tax revenue last year.