Crown Casino and poker machine supplier, Aristocrat Leisure, have won a landmark court case against a former gambling addict, Shonica Guy. The ex-addict alleged that the Dolphin Treasure poker machine at the casino was misleading and deceptive. However, the Federal Court today dismissed the claims.
In 2017, law firm Maurice Blackburn filed a case to Crown Casino and Aristocrat on behalf of Guy. The lawsuit claimed that the popular 38 Dolphin Treasure machines for pokies at Crown Casino breached consumer laws. Guy alleged that the information displayed on the slot machines tricked players about their chances of winning and also misled gamblers on what to expect from the casino as a return.
Both the Melbourne Casino and Aristocrat denied the claims.
On Friday, following a three-week hearing in September – the Federal Court dismissed the claims. Justice Debbie Mortimer told the court that the Dolphin poker machines did not have features which were of unconscionable conduct or amounted to misleading casino players.
“I did not find anything in the conduct of Crown or Aristocrat that could be found as unconscionable. The impression is fleeting and may cause confusion, but it is not misleading or deceptive as the law defines those concepts,” said Mortimer. Therefore there was no evidence to prove the claim made against the pokie machine developer and Crown.
The ex-addict said she was “grateful for the opportunity to have had [her] day in court on behalf of all Australians who have been hurt by the pokies”. But Guy’s lawyer, Jennifer Kanis was not impressed at all by the judgement. She says: “I don’t think the gaming industry can say they’re vindicated,” a more extensive research into the matter was needed so that it is clear to regulators.
However, Mortimer highlighted that: “Research into the possible relationship between the design and features of Electronic Gaming Machines and the development of addiction to gambling … is a new field, where some researchers at least have identified justifications for further work exploring this relationship”.
Aristocrat, who is the developer for Crown Casino’s poker machines, has welcomed the judgement by the Federal Court. The company said in a statement: “We will continue to support balanced and fact-based harm minimisation initiatives, and do more where we can, recognising that these issues are complex and require collaboration across industry, regulators and the community”.
Crown Casino had since argued that Victoria’s gambling regulator tested and approved the Dolphin Treasure machines.