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Fighting for a fair go – pokie machines

Maurice Blackburn has launched landmark pro-bono legal action in the Federal Court that alleges Aristocrat and Crown Melbourne have engaged in misleading or deceiving pokies players under the Australian Consumer Law and unconscionable conduct under the Australian Consumer Law. The legal action relates to Aristocrat and Crown’s involvement in making an Electronic Gaming Machine, commonly known as a pokie machine, called Dolphin Treasure available for play at Crown Casino.

Media statement 12 September 2017: Landmark trial against pokies industry set to begin  

Dolphin Treasure pokie machine

The case focuses on Dolphin Treasure’s design features, which are alleged to be unfair.

The case is being brought by Shonica Guy against Crown Melbourne Limited, which has Dolphin Treasure machines at its casino, and Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd, which manufactures the Dolphin Treasure machine. Ms Guy played pokie machines for 14 years and suffered significant losses.

Ms Guy is seeking:

  • declarations that both Dolphin Treasure itself, and the way in which it is made available for play at Crown, breach the Australian Consumer Law, and
  • injunctions to prevent Aristocrat or Crown:
    • using any deceptive design features in Dolphin Treasure or similar machines in the future or
    • participating in unconscionable conduct in relation to Dolphin Treasure or similar machines in the future.

Ms Guy does not seek any monetary compensation in the case.

If successful, the litigation will have ramifications for the design of all pokie machines in Australia.

Details of the case

The case alleges that the Dolphin Treasure machine is misleading or deceptive because:

  • The sizes of its five reels are not equal.
  • The distribution of symbols on its reels is not even (so the symbols do not occur the same number of times on each of the five reels).
  • The return to player information provided to players on the machine’s display screen is misleading.

The case also alleges that Aristocrat and Crown are engaged in unconscionable conduct because they allegedly make Dolphin Treasure available to vulnerable players to play it to their detriment in circumstances that are known to both Aristocrat and Crown but not to the players.

The case is about attempting to ensure a level playing field for players, by testing whether the machines currently available for play, and the circumstances in which they are available for play at Crown, comply with the Australian Consumer Law.

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