Nova Scotia

New VLT card made by Cape Breton company

Techlink Entertainment, makers of the soon-to-be mandatory VLT cards, will hire more employees.

A Cape Breton company is celebrating the new gaming strategy announced for Nova Scotia on Friday.

Starting in April 2012, all VLT players in the province will have to use a My-Play gaming card, which will track how much they spend, win and lose.

The system is produced in Sydney by Techlink Entertainment, whose founder sees the cards as a way to help players keep their gambling on VLTs under control.

"If people are in the know, and they can see what they're doing, they will control how they game," said John Xidos, the president of Techlink. "It's like you know, getting your Visa statement on a daily basis, rather than once a month or ever getting it."

The cards have been in use on a voluntary basis.

According to the non-profit Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation, there are 2,234 government VLTs in 354 liquor-licensed retail locations. There are an additional 584 VLTs in First Nation gaming sites.

Techlink employs 70 people. Xidos said the company will soon hire another 30 people and hopes to add 200 jobs over the next couple of years.

"Besides the technology, there's a huge back end — our central system that's housed in New Brunswick at Atlantic Lottery Corporation, which controls every card and player that's in the system," Xidos said.

"It's a single individual player system, so we do all the maintenance on the system, train (lottery corporation) employees and anyone who uses the system on how it has to be done, so we're front line on that for sure."

Preliminary results from a Nova Scotia Gaming Foundation-commissioned study suggested that high-risk and problem VLT players were more predisposed to take advantage of the system and its features than low- and no-risk players.

Nova Scotia is the only place in Canada where such cards have been used to track people's gaming habits.