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Crown

Former gambling addict loses landmark Australia case

Casino giant Crown and slot machine maker Aristocrat did not mislead or deceive players about their chances of winning, an Australian court found Friday as it dismissed a landmark case brought by a former gambling addict.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn had brought the case on behalf of Shonica Guy, an ex-addict who suffered significant losses playing slot machines.

The case alleged the design of “Dolphin Treasure” electronic gaming machines — which allow players to win cash if they line up matching symbols on a row of spinning reels — misrepresented the chances of winning.

But Federal Court judge Debra Mortimer told the court as she handed down her judgement that the machines were “not misleading or deceptive as the law defines those concepts”.

Mortimer said Guy’s claims that Crown and Aristocrat engaged in “unconscionable conduct” by taking advantage of vulnerable gamblers was also not founded, with the two firms already complying with a “detailed and comprehensive regulatory regime”.

“That includes assessments about the fairness of the way an EGM (electronic gaming machine) operates, prohibits certain kinds of features, but not others, and includes approval of particular machines … such as the ‘Dolphin Treasure’.”

While dismissing the claims, the judge said the case did raise important issues such as expert views that more research should be done into the relationship between the design of such machines and gambling addiction.

Aristocrat welcomed the decision and said it took its obligations to comply with regulations “extremely seriously”.

There was no immediate comment from Crown, which has “Dolphin Treasure” machines at its flagship Melbourne casino.

Gambling addiction is a major problem in Australia. Advocates for reform estimate that people lose around Aus$12 billion (US$9.6 billion) a year — with losses spiralling since the first machines were built in 1953.

A public inquiry in 2010 disclosed there were 115,000 “problem gamblers”, whose habit can lead to serious health, family and financial issues. Another 280,000 were categorised as at “moderate risk”.

Source : AFP


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