Australian poker machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure has filed a patent in the United States for self-disinfecting poker machines.

The Australian Financial Review reports that as the COVID-19 pandemic shut casinos and dented Aristocrat’s turnover, the $30 billion ASX company has lodged documents with the US patent and trademark office.

Its subsidiary, Aristocrat Technologies, said it could make poker machines or retrofit them with ultraviolet light to rid “high-touch” surfaces and buttons of COVID-19 and other pathogens.

The UV light, which the company insists can be deployed safely by “limiting exposure to UV radiation that might cause skin damage or retinal damage”, could be activated on demand, during idle times or during off-hours for a more thorough disinfection with higher-intensity UV light.

While Aristocrat is looking to shore up its bricks and mortar products, it is part of the biggest proposed acquisition in its history, a $3.9 billion deal to buy UK-listed Playtech, a provider of software and content for the fast-growing, online gambling sector.

If the deal goes ahead, it will take Aristocrat beyond its two key businesses, selling gaming machines to casino and authorised venues around the world, and developing online social games, to online real money gaming, a sector already worth US$70 billion and growing rapidly as regulatory change sweeps through the United States.

Now if they can just come up with an automatic way to push the seats back in after a customer moves off a machine!