A Melbourne woman who admits to once being addicted to slot (or poker) machines has lost her case against Crown Melbourne.
Shonica Guy was not seeking damages, but wanted machines to be designed fairly, and for players to be clearly informed about their chances of winning.
The decision in the case of Shonica Guy against Crown Melbourne Ltd and another was handed down by Justice Debra Mortimer in the Federal Court today (Friday, 2nd February).
See what Shonica Guy (shonicaguy) has discovered on Pinterest, the world's biggest collection of ideas. Former addict Shonica Guy claims the game is rigged and is taking the powerful industry through the courts. Picture: AAP Image/Joe Castro Source:AAP ‘IT IS WRONG, AND IT HAS TO STOP’.
It was found that Ms Guy did not prove any breaches of Australian Consumer Law. Ms Guy had alleged that the Dolphin Treasure poker machine incorporated features which were misleading and deceptive, and that its operation was unconscionable.
Justice Mortimer referred to a lack of specific evidence from people who had been harmed by the Dolphin Treasure at Crown, and also commented on the genuine evidence that was courageously provided by people with a history of gambling harm, in handing down her decision.
Justice Mortimer found that research into the connections between poker machine design and characteristics and addiction to gambling was a new field, one in which there was some justification for additional work to be carried out.
The intersection between consumer law, and the decisions of state governments to allow but regulate the consumption of harmful products such as alcohol and tobacco was noted by Justice Mortimer. She indicated that she had not needed to address such intersections, but noted that 'their general importance and complexity means those issues should await determination in a proceeding where it is necessary for them to be decided'.
The case, as Justice Mortimer noted, has some parallels with issues that arose in the early days of the tobacco control movement. At that point, confusion around the nature of expert evidence and opinion (much of it generated by the tobacco industry, as identified in the book Merchants of Doubt, meant that it was difficult for legal proceedings to be effective as a means of better regulating tobacco consumption.
The tobacco control movement used both legal and other strategies to bring about the present system of tobacco control, which in Australia and other countries has been highly successful in reducing avoidable harm.
The policy adopted by the ALP in the current Tasmanian election, in which it wants to ban poker machines from pubs, is indicative of the change in opinion towards poker machines. The ALP has traditionally been supportive of the poker machine industry, but appears to have acknowledged the significant shift in public opinion in recent years. Moving to take poker machines from clubs and pubs in Tasmania is a major policy development, particularly coming from one of Australia's two major political parties.
Effective gambling harm prevention and reduction is unlikely to come from a single court decision, or indeed from some 'silver bullet' solution. Rather, it is likely to be developed over an extended period, via traditional public health activity - research, policy review and development, and knowledge translation.
Monash University is at the forefront of this activity (as evidenced by the recent contribution to Lancet Psychiatry co-authored by three Monash researchers, Hooked on Gambling? A problem of human or machine design?), and we will continue to work towards the prevention and reduction of avoidable harm.
Melbourne (AFP) – 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’.” Promo codes betting sites.
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”.