POKIE PAYOUTS A MYTH: LANDMARK LEGAL ACTION TO BE TAKEN
Australia’s voracious gaming machines are facing a landmark legal test, with a former pokie addict set to challenge the industry’s assurance that players are returned a minimum 85 per cent of their stake. In the Federal Court, Adelaide-based lead applicant Shonica Guy will seek a declaration against industry giants Crown casino and pokie manufacturer Aristocrat that the machines she played for 14 years were misleading and deceptive. The 85 per cent return figure is calculated over the lifetime of a machine. In September, Fairfax Media revealed details of Ms Guy’s claim that the popular Dolphin Treasure machine was designed to mislead players. This included an uneven spread of symbols needed to win across the game’s five “reels” and the disguising of losses as wins through images and sound.
But in an updated claim, Ms Guy will also argue that information to players provided on machines is deceptive, notably the assurance that players will get a “theoretical” return of 85 per cent (the figure varies by state and by machine). The 85 per cent return figure is calculated over the lifetime of a machine and includes jackpots that occasional players rarely win. Prominent Melbourne-based law firm Maurice Blackburn is representing Ms Guy. Principal Jacob Varghese slammed the 85 per cent advice to players as a “myth” based on the average return from a single spin. Ms Guy’s team will claim that, contrary to federal consumer law, players are tricked into believing that if they enter a pokies venue with $100 they will leave hours later with $85.
But because 15 per cent on average is lost each game, the return cumulatively diminishes, with average players losing $5 every minute and $10 in five minutes. “So if you put money into the machine and have multiple spins, you likely will be left with nothing,” said Mr Varghese. He said that to be confident of an 85 per cent return a player would have to have unlimited funds and use a machine for its lifetime. Mr Varghese said the case was the first to focus on the effects of poker machine design on the prospects of winning. If successful it would have ramifications for the design of all pokie machines across the industry. The case centres on the Dolphin Treasure machine and the claim the machine is designed – including in its reels and symbols – to make winning far more difficult than it appears to players.
Ms Guy said the machines took over her life for 14 years. “I do not want that to happen to another family. “People deserve to know what is going on with the design of these machines, which deliberately give people false hope that they have a chance of winning to keep them playing. It is wrong, and it has to stop,” she said. The legal action is being supported by the Alliance for Gambling Reform and backed up with analysis by researchers at Monash University. Australians lose more than $11 billion on pokies each year. Some $2.5 billion is lost in Victoria alone, with $1 billion flowing to state coffers through taxes. Crown has a licence to operate 2628 poker machines. Pokies manufacturer Aristocrat did not comment but has previously said it would “vigorously” defend any legal action.
SAFE SCHOOLS PROGRAM CAUSING BULLYING RATHER THAN STOPPING IT
A new report from the Australian Christian Lobby reveals how the Safe Schools program has resulted in bullying in schools for anyone who questions the LGBTI agenda. The government is all alone in believing that Safe Schools was ever intended to reduce bullying. The co-founder of the program, Roz Ward, has stated that Safe Schools is not an anti-bullying program but about the promotion of sexual and gender diversity. It was written by activists with the express aim of transforming society. ACL’s report exposes the misleading ‘research’ claims used to win public support for a program. Rather than being grounded in solid research, the Safe Schools program is impelled by very powerful political drivers that aim to normalise sexual diversity while marginalizing heterosexuality.
To do this, Safe Schools teaches children queer theory – that ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ and ‘sexual orientation’ are separate, non-binary and often incongruent. We just can’t assume that boys will be boys and like girls. Where boys feel like girls, Safe Schools says schools must ‘affirm’ the chosen gender identity of the child. Parents only need to be told where they have shown support for the ‘transition’, otherwise ‘transitions’ can happen without parents’ knowledge. Schools must also change their uniforms, toilet arrangements, sporting teams and language to be ‘inclusive’ of transgender students. Safe Schools encourages children to ‘come out’ as homosexual or bisexual even if they are not sure. ACL is concerned that vulnerable children are being used as pawns and cultivated as political activists in schools.
Children who disagree with these new understandings of sexuality and gender are exposed to humiliation and required to explain themselves. Teachers too are threatened with prosecution under new interpretations of ‘anti-discrimination’ if they don’t comply. While the government has affirmed that parents should have the capacity ‘opt out’, Safe Schools advocates for a whole of school approach, so the content is woven into every school subject. Parents can only ‘opt out’ of Safe Schools by removing their children from school completely. Far from reducing bullying, Safe Schools has transformed the school environment by increasing intolerance for the traditional world views that heterosexuality and gender congruency are normal.
Safe Schools never was intended to reduce bullying and it is ineffectual of the government to continue lamenting that this is what it ‘should be’. By allowing political interest groups to re-write school curriculum, the government has abandoned its responsibility to provide an education system that can accommodate the entire community. This is particularly troubling in a democracy, where what is taught in schools will so profoundly influence the next generation of voters.
Female gendercide is occurring in Australia and we should not behave in a wilfully blind way towards this matter, warned the Hon Greg Donnelly, MLC in the New South Wales Parliament. Globally, an estimated 100 million unborn babies have been deliberately killed because they are girls. While many are aborted before they are born, many girls have, and continue to be, killed at birth or neglected to the point where they die. In his speech to parliament, Mr Donnelly said more needed to be done to uncover the practice of female gendercide in Australia. “There is no question that access to relatively cheap ultrasound scanning technology used with malevolent intentions, has paved the way for this culling,” Mr Donnelly said in his speech.
“There is evidence that female gendercide is occurring to some extent in this state. Let me be clear, I am not claiming that it is a widespread practice, but it is taking place and it is about time that the matter was brought out into the public domain, thoroughly examined and challenged. “The practice is deeply sexist, brutal, and utterly corrupts the moral fabric of our society,” he said.