Morning mail: how pokies take Australia’s money | Australia news

Good morning, this is Eleanor Ainge Roy bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Thursday 28 September.

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Poker machines are big business in Australia, with players losing $11bn on them every year. A special Guardian interactive shows how they use a range of design features that leverage psychology to keep people playing. In an accompanying investigation, Melissa Davey dives into the opaque science and emotional pull of pokies. “One time late at night at a bar in regional Victoria, I saw a lady who was hugging the machine in a very affectionate manner,” Charles Livingstone, an expert on pokies, tells her. “Research has shown there are some people who tend to anthropomorphise poker machines.”

Poker machines are in the spotlight in a a landmark court case in Melbourne against Aristocrat Technologies (the makers of the Dolphin Treasure pokies) and Crown Casino. Former gambler Shonica Guy’s lawyers argue that Aristocrat Technologies and Crown are engaging in deceptive, misleading and unconscionable conduct by providing Dolphin Treasure pokies to the public. Crown Casino told the court they were doing nothing more than making authorised machines available; Aristocrat Technologies said it has “followed the [industry] standards to the tee” and the way the machines worked was not a secret.

More than 92% of voters in Iraqi Kurdistan have voted for independence from Baghdad. Euphoria on the streets of Erbil in recent days is likely to be short-lived as a landmark moment in a centuries-old push for self-determination has been met with the threat of air and land blockades from the Iraqi prime minister. Masoud Barzani, the de facto president of the region’s Kurds, had hoped to use the poll as political leverage that could help negotiate independence from Iraq. But his moves have been met with increasing hostility from the region, as well as the US and Britain, raising the prospect of isolation and blockade.

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