Compulsive Gambler Says Casino Enticed Him With “Lucky Money”

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Testifying this week in his case against Melbourne's Crown Casino, real-estate developer and compulsive gambler Harry Kakavas blamed the casino for causing him to lose $30 million (Australian) during a lengthy gambling spree in which he may have risked as much as $1.5 billion (Australian).  Kakavas (also Australian) says the casino knew he was a compulsive gambler who had been banned from other casinos, but encouraged him to continue gambling anyway.  Crown says it did no such thing, and that Kakavas owes it another $1 million.

Apparently, Kakavas had stayed away from Crown for about two years, but returned in June 2005.  He told the court that the casino had "welcomed him back" with a box containing $30,000 of what they called "lucky money."  It isn't clear from the report whether that particular money was lucky, but the $1 million he brought with him next time definitely was not.  He lost it all, then lost a $200,000 "rebate" the casino gave him.  He alleges that a casino employee then drove him to a local bank where he got a check for another $345,000.  "It went straight down the chute," Kakavas admitted.

According to his attorneys, Crown subsequently offered to fly Kakavas from Sydney, where he lives, to Melbourne on at least 14 occasions, offering him the use of its private jet and leaving him a box of $50,000 in "lucky money" each time.  (This happens to me all the time — I just never realized it was tortious.)  During 2005 and 2006, his wagers may have totaled $1.5 billion, in bets as large as $300,000 on a single hand.  Eventually, even the casino got concerned.  It finally banned him in August 2006, right after he had lost two million dollars at baccarat in just 43 minutes ($46,511 per minute).  The report didn't say who was timing him.

This is the casino's fault, apparently, because something called the "Casino Control Act" precludes casinos from letting banned gamblers play.  One report said that Crown might have to pay the state up to 700 million dollars if it violated the law, and presumably the Act also gives Kakavas an argument for suing them too.  Or maybe he claims the casino's money was not, in fact, lucky, and is suing for false representation.

Mr. Kakavas also mentioned that, before he went back to Crown in 2005, he had also lost a total of $30 million (or, as he put it, "a tick over $23 million US") in Las Vegas.  He does not yet seem to have sued anybody for that.

Link: AFP via Yahoo! News
Link: Sydney Morning Herald