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Dolphin treasure – Crown casino pokies case
In 2016 Maurice Blackburn launched landmark pro-bono legal action in the Federal Court that alleged Aristocrat and Crown Melbourne engaged in misleading or deceiving pokies players under the Australian Consumer Law and unconscionable conduct under the Australian Consumer Law. The legal action related 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.
Ms Guy did not seek any monetary compensation in the case.
The case was unsuccessful, with the Federal Court finding that while poker machine design features are not legally misleading and deceptive, the full impacts of such features in fuelling gambling addiction remain unclear.
While we were unsuccessful on the legal arguments, what was accepted is that while poker machines look like the mechanical machines of old the reality of what actually happens to determine whether a gambler wins or loses when the button is pressed is actually something quite different.
In our view the decision provides an opportunity to review the regulations to ensure that the design of poker machines fits the reality of what the gambler sees and experiences.
Our case was never going to be able to take up this fight alone – tackling the scourge of pokies needs leadership to reverse the financial and human costs that come from gambling on the pokies.
The Maryborough Highland Society, headquartered 40km away from Castlemaine in a different shire, attempted to convert Castlemaine's historic Railway Goods Shed into a venue with 65 poker machines, tripling the number of pokies in town. This was an attempt to circumvent Council policy by leasing a building on State Government land that sits outside the local planning restrictions.
EPIC is a community organisation comprising over 1,500 people from a town of only 7,000, and includes a broad cross-section of the Castlemaine community - with local businesses, artists, the local psychiatrist, problem gamblers and their family and friends all involved.
VCAT handed down its orders on 14 February 2013. This was a significant win for EPIC and community groups throughout Australia.