Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg

Crown, Aristocrat Face Lawsuit Over ‘Deceptive’ Slot Machines

  • Maurice Blackburn to file action in Australia’s Federal Court
  • Crown says it will ‘vigorously defend’ any action in court

Crown Resorts Ltd. and Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. face a lawsuit due to be filed Wednesday alleging they deceived gamblers through the design of slot machines, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said.

The lawsuit to be filed in Australia’s Federal Court “will focus on the design of machines contributing to players being deliberately deceived on their prospects of winning,” Maurice Blackburn said in a statement. The case is being brought by Shonica Guy, who allegedly suffered significant losses over 14 years of playing slot machines, known locally as poker machines.

“If successful, the litigation will have ramifications for the design of all poker machines in the industry,” Maurice Blackburn said.

Crown said in a statement it will “vigorously defend any claim.” While Aristocrat, Australia’s biggest slot-machine maker, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, the company said in a statement last month it “emphatically rejects any suggestion that its games are designed to encourage problem gambling.”

To read more about gambling in Australia, click here.

More than half of the A$23 billion ($17.6 billion) that gamblers in Australia lost last year was sunk into slot machines, according to a report by the Queensland state government. An estimated 400 Australians commit suicide each year due to gambling-related problems, according to Charles Livingstone, a lecturer at the School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Monash University in Melbourne, citing research he’s conducted from medical studies.

The lawsuit focuses in particular on the design of the “Dolphin Treasure” machine, which is manufactured by Aristocrat Technologies Australia, according to Maurice Blackburn.

There are about 200,000 slot machines, known locally as poker machines, in Australia. About one in six Australians who play regularly has a serious addiction and loses on average about A$21,000 a year, according to government data.

The Gaming Technologies Association said in a statement Wednesday that Australia “has one of the most stringent regulatory environments for poker machines in the world.”

“Regulators impose comprehensive conditions on every aspect of poker machine design and operation,” Ross Ferrar, the association’s chief executive, said in the statement. “Poker machines are designed to be entertaining and are a legitimate recreational activity that many Australians enjoy responsibly.”

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