Endorphina pulls online slot amid backlash
23 Feb 2017
Czech-based slot developer Endorphina has pulled its online slot game Maori just two months after its release.
The online slot, described by the company as "celebrating the traditional inhabitants of the [sic] New Zealand," featured images of pounamu – a type of jade valued by the Maori people – and stylized bone carvings, which were quickly noted as cultural appropriation by Hapai Te Hauora, a public health agency.
At release, Endorphina called the game "a visually mastered slot that features full 3-D modeled characters in HD that allows great immersion into the game and the culture of the people."
But the unauthorized use of cultural icons such as the pounamu constituted a breach of intellectual property rights of the Ngai Tahu, a Maori tribe. The game also featured Ka Mate, a haka – or traditional dance — belonging to the Ngati Toa. The Maori people also face difficulties with problem gambling, a concern cited by Hapai Te Hauora. Problem gambling in the Maori community is about three to four times higher than in the general New Zealand population, according to a report by the New Zealand Ministry of Health.
On 2 February, Hapai Te Hauora posted a press release detailing Endorphina's unauthorized use of cultural symbols. A subsequent press release posted on 17 February commended the company for its swift response.
Anthony Hawke, GM Maori Public Health at Hapai Te Hauora, said in a press release, "We are especially pleased that this action has resulted in Endorphina Ltd implementing cultural awareness policies intended to ensure Maori and other indigenous people do not become the face of gambling promotion worldwide." The public healthy agency hopes to assist Endorphina in developing these policies.
A spokesperson from Endorphina told Casino City they are planning to issue an additional public apology.