Sunday 25. October, 2015

Melbourne Law Firm Prepares to Declare Pokies a Breach of Consumer Law

Maurice Blackburn, a leading Melbourne law firm, is preparing a case against poker machines to have them declared in breach of Australian consumer law. The firm is working with the Alliance for Gambling Reform as they attempt to clamp down on pokies for the potential problem gambling they create.

The case argues that poker machines are deceptive and encourage addictive behaviour which is illegal under consumer law in Australia.

“We think there’s a genuine argument that some of the behaviours by the pokies designers is misleading and deceptive in that it makes people think things are happening that are not actually happening,” said lawyer Jacob Varghese.

He describes how machines declare win which are actually losses. For example, if you win 30 cents out of the dollar, it reacts with stimuli as if you have won, even though you have actually lost 70 cents.

“The neuroscience shows that gives you a little bit of a hit and that hit is not dissimilar to the hit you get when you take a drug,” he continued.

He said that this case would differ from previous cases which had been brought which ruled that the player was responsible for his own addictive behaviour. However, with new research showing that the machines are designed to deceive players and result in addictive behaviour, this case is unique.

According to Mr Varghese, “they need to be much more upfront about what they’re doing” if their aim is to extract money from gamblers and their case aims to have poker machines declare clear winnings. They are not looking to ban pokies.

The case is still in its very early stages and has not been lodged in any court – state or federal and the law firm is still exploring its premise.


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