Melbourne’ Crown Casino is facing a ban by the Victoria Gambling Regulator from providing their patrons with special plastic picks. The casino did this to bypass rules for poker machines in the region. The regulator suggests that the use of these picks could lead to an increase in gambling-related harm.
In 2017 some whistleblowers reported that staff members of the Casino were giving plastic picks emblazoned with the Crown logo, to patrons. The picks were used to jam buttons of poker machines and allow the user’s continuous gameplay. The Victorian regulations mandate casino gamblers to press a button for every bet they place. The small function takes less than three seconds and is one of the most distinctive features of poker machines. It was designed to help protect players from harms related to gambling. However, the casino handed out plastic picks similar to guitar picks to bypass the existing rules and let users play without restrictions.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) suggested that Crown Casino has been suspended from offering the plastic picks to the users. However, it did not impose any monetary fines on the establishment. The regulator said it noted that an investigation into the issue revealed that the use of button picks might significantly increase the negative consequences of gambling for players and hence, they cannot be permitted.
The probe was backed by local whistleblowers as well as independent federal Member of Parliament Andrew Wilkie, who has been campaigning against the pokies for long. Wilkie was disappointed with VCGLR’s response to the case and called it “pathetic.” He did not approve of the fact that the Commission took months to conclude their inquiry when evidence was present with them the entire time. He also shared his displeasure with the fact that no fines or jail sentences were ordered for people who used illegal plastic picks in the Melbourne casino against the regulator’s rules. Wilkie said that it was unbelievable that the regulator was not aware of the use of these picks.
Crown casino has been facing tough times for the past two years. Its trouble began in 2017 when it was accused of deliberately removing some buttons from poker machines telling players. This was done to limit bet options for poker machines and to force players to stake higher bets. In 2018, the casino suffered an AU$300,000 fine.