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Crown Casino refunds pokie players after Friday blackout
Herald Sun (VIC Metropolitan, 2 February 2009)

ALMOST all pokie players evacuated from Crown on Friday night have been refunded money stuck in the machines at the time.

While angry gamblers sweltered outside the casino after they were forced to leave their machines when a power blackout shut the venue down, Crown spokesman Gary O'Neill vowed they would be fully refunded.

Mr O'Neill said today the casino had made good on its promise, with the refund system "working very well'' and only a handful of people yet to be refunded by last night.

Only a couple of disputes over amounts owed had been referred to the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR) and these had been settled, Mr O'Neill said.

About 1200 people were gambling on Crown's poker machines when Friday's heat-related power outage struck, putting the lights out and leaving the machines dead.

Other businesses, homes and traffic lights across Melbourne also lost power in the blackout.

Mr O'Neill said about half of the 1200 poker machine gamblers were Crown Club members, whose names and credits owed were registered on their machines, making refunds straightforward.

Of the remainder, patrons contacted Crown to advise where they were playing and the value of credits they had left in the machine.

When the blackout struck, the casino had been able to register the outstanding credits left on every machine and then cross-reference it against the information provided by people contacting them for a refund.

Mr O'Neill said he did not know how much money had been refunded, or how much money the casino had lost due to the power outage, which lasted from about 6.30pm to just after midnight.

"It's being calculated. Crown, like other businesses in Melbourne will be trying to assess that value,'' Mr O'Neill said.

"At the moment we haven't determined it.''

He said it was too early to say whether Crown would seek compensation for revenues lost. | End

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