In Australia, casino operator Crown Resorts Limited and gaming machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure Limited could be about to face a lawsuit alleging that the Dolphin Treasure slot is deceptive because it reportedly disguises losses as wins.
According to a report from The Age newspaper, local player Shonica Guy enjoyed slots for 14 years but has now asked lawyer Maurice Blackburn to write to Aristocrat Leisure Limited and Crown Resorts Limited on her behalf pro bono in hopes of working out a resolution to her claims.
“The machines are actually designed to take your money,” said Guy. “As soon as I touched the machine, I was hooked. There is a fine line between gambling and entertainment. I just want people to know that they are being conned.”
Blackburn revealed that Crown Resorts Limited and Aristocrat Leisure Limited now have two weeks to reply to Guy’s accusations before the matter moves to a federal court where the plaintiff is to be represented pro bono by barrister Ron Merkel.
The Melbourne newspaper reported that the legal action is set to focus on the uneven spread of symbols needed to win across the five reels in Dolphin Treasure, which is the central tenet of the game, while additionally looking into design features including those that use images and sounds to allegedly camouflage losses.
Guy declared that she began playing slots at a club near her house in Adelaide, South Australia, when she was just 17 years old. She continued to enjoy the games for the next 14 years, especially at a local shopping center where she was employed and often took time out of her lunch breaks to play.
“It took over my life; half my life was wasted,” said Guy. “I was hypnotized for a decade. I didn’t know I was hooked then someone said “I think you are hooked”. I thought I had a fair chance of winning but I found out that they are rigged. They trick with design features.”
The legal action is being supported by the Alliance For Gambling Reform, which has been working for many years in hopes of changing the nation’s laws on slots. The machines reportedly brought in over $8.3 billion last year including some $1.8 billion from players in the southern state of Victoria and the group’s Tim Costello explained that the legal action is set to be an incredibly tough fight.
“This is the people versus [James] Packer and it’s about time the people had a real win,” said Costello. “Adding Aristocrat [Leisure Limited] to the case means it’s now become David versus Goliaths. There are effectively two Goliaths. We can’t let [slots] money win the day this time.”
Crown Resorts Limited has a license to operate 2,628 slots inside its giant Crown Casino And Entertainment Complex alone while Blackburn, who works for social justice practice Jacob Varghese, alleged that the machines often give players the impression that they have a realistic chance of winning when they do not.
“We think it is reasonable for a player to assume that each reel has an even distribution of symbols,” said Blackburn. “We want the machines to be fair; what you see should be what you get but that is not the case.”