A former gambling addict who alleged that the Dolphin Treasure poker machine was deceptive and misleading has lost her landmark court case against Melbourne’s Crown Casino and Aristocrat Leisure, the game’s manufacturer.
An Australian Federal court last Friday dismissed the suit that accused Crown and Aristocrat of giving gamblers misleading information on chances of winning and was therefore deceptive and misleading, contrary to Australian consumer law.
Justice Debbie Mortimer ruled the case failed to show that Crown or Aristocrat had breached consumer laws.
“I did not find anything in the conduct of Crown or Aristocrat that could be found as unconscionable,” Justice Mortimer said.
Justice Mortimer said there was no specific evidence to prove the claim against Crown and Aristocrat, and that it was the court’s purpose to rule on the law and not on the ethics of poker machine gambling.
Justice Mortimer said that while Guy had raised important questions about how casinos treat problem gamblers, she failed to the defendants’ misleading or unconscionable conduct.
“My findings … do not diminish the tragedies involved in the accounts given by Ms Guy and the other lay witnesses,” the judge, Debra Mortimer, wrote.
“However, most of this evidence was not specific enough to contribute to proving the allegations made.”
Crown had argued that the Dolphin Treasure machines had been tested and approved by Victoria’s regulator of gambling.
Aristocrat welcomed the Federal Court judgement, saying that it has high integrity and takes its regulatory obligations extremely seriously.
“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,” Aristocrat said in a statement.
The Gaming Technologies Association (GTA), which represents gaming machine suppliers, said the Federal Court ruling should end “the campaign of myth and misinformation that has been waged against the industry”.
GTA chief executive Ross Ferrar said “This case has failed on all counts. The judgement clears the air after a vexatious campaign waged against the industry based on speculation and claims that have failed to withstand legal scrutiny.
“Throughout this process, the industry has faced incredible scrutiny, which our members welcomed, and we are pleased that Justice Mortimer has found that the action brought has failed on all counts.
In particular, the Association notes Her Honour’s comments regarding Aristocrat and Crown’s compliance with “a detailed and comprehensive regulatory regime” which was an important factor in her conclusion.
“Justice Mortimer’s ruling is further evidence that Australian poker machines are robustly regulated and can be enjoyed with confidence.”
Mr Ferrar said: “This is an important outcome for the gaming industry and the countless Australians who will continue to enjoy poker machines with the full knowledge they are playing games that adhere to world-class standards.”.
Shares in Aristocrat were placed in a trading halt on Friday morning ahead of the Federal Court’s decision and rose 20 cents, or 0.82 percent, to $24.65 soon after they resumed trading at 2 pm AEDT
Sources: ABC, AFR, Reuters, AGB