By Jane Collis.
Contributing partner – Melinda Upton.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform (the Alliance) thinks so. In October 2015, the Alliance’s representatives spoke with the Australian media to announce that the Alliance, which consists of local city councils, religious organisations and not for profits targeting problem gambling and public health, is working on a potential claim against the multi-billion dollar slot machine industry in Australia.
The claim foreshadowed by the Alliance has two arms:
- Australian Consumer Law (ACL): The Alliance argues that designers of the machines have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in contravention of section 18 of the ACL because the machines make players think certain things are happening that are actually not. For example – a AU$1 bet may yield a AU30 cent win, which is actually a AU70 cent loss, however the machine will play graphics and sounds that indicate a win. Another design feature said to be misleading is near miss results.
- Negligence: The Alliance asserts that some industry players have negligently breached their duty of care to players of the machines under tort law in Australia.
The potential claim is still in its infancy. No specific industry target has been identified or claim filed in any court. The precise nature of the remedies desired are also largely unknown, although the Alliance has indicated that they would be seeking clearer warnings on the machines themselves. Therefore, we can only comment on the potential claim in a general sense.