Melbourne Casino comes good on pokies refund promise - Wednesday 4th of February 2009

Almost all of the 1,200 people playing poker machines at Melbournes Crown Casino when it was evacuated last Friday have been refunded the money stuck in the machines at the time, the casino says.

After angry gamblers sweltered outside the casino when they were forced to leave their machines and the credits in them when a power blackout shut the venue down, Crown spokesman Gary ONeill vowed they would be fully refunded.

Mr ONeill on Monday said 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 Sunday 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 ONeill said.

About 1,200 people were gambling on Crowns poker machines when Fridays 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 ONeill said about half of the 1,200 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 ONeill 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 (AEDT) to just after midnight.

"Its being calculated. Crown, like other businesses in Melbourne will be trying to assess that value," Mr ONeill told AAP.

"At the moment we havent determined it."

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

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