Shonica Guy has lost her court case against Crown Casino and Dolphin Treasure poker machines (file).A former gambling addict has failed in her Federal Court bid to find Melbourne’s Crown Casino and its Dolphin Treasure poker machines are misleading.
Justice Debbie Mortimer said the case by Shonica Guy against the casino and Dolphin Treasure manufacturer Aristocrat Technologies failed to show consumer laws were breached.
“I did not find anything in the conduct of Crown or Aristocrat that could be found as unconscionable,” the judge ruled in the landmark case on Friday.
Ms Guy alleged the casino’s 38 Dolphin Treasure machines duped players about their chances of winning.
Crown and Aristocrat denied all allegations.
Ms Guy claimed the machine’s player information display also misled gamblers about what they could expect as a return, as an individual.
Justice Mortimer conceded that information may cause confusion, but it was not misleading or deceptive under law.
She said a lack of specific evidence from people claiming to have been exploited or victimised based on the identified features of the machine, substantially affected the strength of Ms Guy’s case.
Further, Crown and Aristocrat’s compliance with comprehensive regulations, including around the fairness of how the game operates, was an important factor in her decision.
Ms Guy had not sought any financial compensation and said outside court she took on the case to show ns that poker machines and their design played a big part in gambling addictions.
“I hope this can lead to a better way forward and a better industry so no one has to go through what I’ve gone through,” she said.
Justice Mortimer noted Ms Guy’s courage in pursuing the case publicly and said her findings did not diminish the tragedies caused by problem gambling.
But it was the court’s task to consider issues of law and not rule on the ethics of gambling.
She also noted that although the allegations were not proven, research into the possible relationship between a machine’s design and gambling addiction was a new field being explored.
Aristocrat welcomed the finding, saying it took its regulatory obligations seriously.
The company said it continued to support “balanced and fact-based harm minimisation initiatives” and would do more where it could, recognising the issues were complex and required collaboration across industry, regulators and the community.
The Gaming Technologies Association also welcomed the decision, saying it should end the “myth and misinformation” waged against the industry.
Ms Guy’s lawyer Jennifer Kanis said the outcome was disappointing and more research was needed to show the connection between machines and addiction, so it’s clear to regulators.
“I don’t think the gaming industry can say they’re vindicated,” she said.
Monash University Public Health lecturer Dr Charles Livingstone believes poker machines are on “borrowed time in their current form” as more research is undertaken.
“Sooner or later we will realise (the harm) and regulate this business properly,” he said.
The case returns to court next week to determine costs.