Australia’s Federal Court has dismissed a case brought against Crown Resorts and slot machine manufacturer Aristocrat Technologies Ltd by a former gambling addict which claimed that the design of the latter’s “Dolphin Treasure” machine was misleading.
In what was seen as a landmark case for the industry, Judge Debbie Mortimer ruled that there was no evidence either Crown or Aristocrat had breached consumer law, that no identified individual had been victimized or exploited by them and that there was no identified special disadvantage on the part of the applicant.
“I did not find anything in the conduct of Crown or Aristocrat that could be found as unconscionable,” Judge Mortimer said.
“There are no allegations that either respondent has failed to comply with its obligations under the regulatory framework. To the contrary, the evidence positively demonstrates compliance.”
She added that although on-screen information outlining Return to Player ratios of around 87% might be confusing to a player “at least momentarily,” that belief will “soon be dispelled as she or he actually starts gambling and the randomness of the operation of the machine and the returns become apparent. The impression is fleeting and may cause confusion but it is not misleading or deceptive as the law defines those concepts.”
The lawsuit was brought last year by Shonica Guy, a 41-year-old former gambling addict who argued that the uneven spread of the symbols on the Aristocrat game “Dolphin Treasure” and the manner in which statistical information was displayed was misleading and encouraged addictive behavior.
“This case is not about seeking compensation for what I lost — I just want to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Ms Guy said in September. “What I want this case to show is that the industry knows their machines are addictive and design these machines to get us hooked.”
Judge Mortimer disagreed, rejecting Ms Guy’s claims that she was placed at a “special disadvantage” by Crown and Aristocrat due to her gambling addiction.
In a statement, Aristocrat said it welcomed the judgement of the Federal Court.
“As we have said throughout, Aristocrat is a high-integrity business that takes our regulatory obligations extremely seriously. We strive to scrupulously uphold our obligations with respect to EGM compliance,” the company said.
“We will continue to support balanced and fact-based harm minimization initiatives and do more where we can, recognizing that these issues are complex and require collaboration across industry, regulators and the community.
“In this vein, we will consider the Court’s judgment in detail.”