Melbourne’s Crown Casino has come under fire once again, this time for reportedly letting customers reduce the spin time on certain pokies.
According to local media reports, the casino and the state parliament have been criticised for allowing VIP players circumvent responsible gambling features. Under Victoria’s gambling laws, pokies must have a minimum spin rate of 2.14 seconds.
However, under a long-standing deal between Crown and the Labor government, loyalty club members can bypass this limit and play “unrestricted” games.
Deal Allows Unrestricted Play
Outrage at what some have called “special exemptions” has come after a video was published online. Shot by an unnamed player, the video shows how those with access to the unrestricted machines can stop the reels spinning in 100th of a second.
The whistle-blower’s credentials have since been verified by The Age, which has prompted anti-gambling advocates to call for change.
In addition to turbo-charging the games, Crown has also been accused of encouraging players to forgo other responsible gambling measures.
“I decided to see how I would go and I lost $100 in about 10 seconds if that. I just started laughing. I thought this is ridiculous. They tried to talk me out of $1,000, they go up to $400,000 a week,” the whistle-blower told ABC News.
Are the Super Spinners Spreading?
The main concern for many is that the unrestricted pokies are becoming more readily available. While other casinos in the state are bound by the spin rate rule, Crown has gradually applied its exemption to 1,000 pokies both within its VIP areas and the main gaming floor.
In response to the claims that it’s flouting responsible gaming measures, a spokesperson for Crown said that company invests heavily in player protection and any claims to the contrary are false.
“Any suggestion by ABC that Crown is trying to encourage problem gaming is wrong and highly defamatory,” read a statement given to ABC News.
The latest story comes just weeks after the operator was fined $300,000 for removing certain betting options from a select number of pokies. Although critics have suggested that the move was a ploy to get players to bet more, Crown maintains that changes were part of an isolated test.
In light of the evidence, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) agreed that the removal of certain betting options was part of a trial. However, the regulator still fined the casino $300,000 for not informing the relevant authority before carrying out the procedure.
At this stage, it’s unclear whether the local government will be reviewing Crown’s deal to allow a certain amount of access to unrestricted pokies.