A Lawsuit Looms Over the Legality of Australian Poker Machines

Poker machines are at the center of a major controversy in Melbourne, Australia. A legal challenge is being prepared and the events that transpire could have a ripple effect throughout the entire gambling industry. All of those involved in gaming-related businesses are keeping a careful watch on how things transpire.

Attorney Maurice Blackburn has teamed up with the Alliance for Gambling Reform and the alliance is working hard at trying to crack down on pokies. Right now, Blackburn's Melbourne law firm is exploring litigation that would lead to poker machines being deemed in violation of Australian consumer law. Obviously, if a judgment is rendered that leads to the machines being considered outside the law, then they may end up being banned.

What is at the core of the legal challenge? Lawyers are suggesting the machine breach consumer laws because they are intended to trick users into playing. (The trickery could come in the form of an enticement to play to win big money) Additionally, a “gambling addiction angle” is being explored. If it is proven in a court of law that the machines encourage a behavior prone to being addictive, then things might bode ill for the poker machine industry and its future.

No one knows for sure how any legal challenge will play out.

Outright banning is not a guaranteed outcome even if the are considered to be in violation of the law. Legislators could simply work on revising the law to properly allow the games or, possibly, regulate them in a different way. Of course, it is possible the courts may rule in the favor of the poker machine industry. With such an outcome, nothing would really change in the aftermath.

The arguments that the machines violate consumer law due to being “misleading and deceptive” is outright based on the very nature of gambling. The payouts on the games do not necessarily mean people are winning. A person who loses for three days in a row and wins on the fourth day may have a net loss of $100. Yet, that player may think he has won.

Will the attorneys succeed in having these games banned? Honestly, this is not their intention in the lawsuit to begin with. The litigation seems to be focused on forcing regulatory changes that require the games to display warning signs. These signs would present a red flag about the addictive nature of pokie playing.

Whether or not the litigations turns out to be successful is anyone's guess.