Before the proliferation of gambling and its gaining so much popularity all over the world, nobody had the idea to file a lawsuit against a casino after losing a certain amount of money. People accepted that they lost or were beaten by a better player, and went home with an empty pocket. Since then, especially with the appearance of professional gamblers, who make a living on their luck, gambling habits and attitudes have changed a lot. Losing or winning is a question of existence for them, so in certain cases it is understandable that these people go to the court to get back what they think had been lost illegally.
One of the recent cases is an Australian businessman’s. Harry Kakavas is the name of the person who is said to have lost £13m within one year. The plaintiff, Mr Kakavas, accused the Melbourne’s Crown Casino and stated that the institution took advantage of his pathological gambling problem. Considering him a VIP gambler, the casino provided incentives and he could even use the casino’s private jet, for example. In retrospective, Mr Kakavas argued that the gambling den knew about his problem but the casino denied and stated that they did not act unconscionably when they allowed the man to gamble and lose a large sum of money. The court rejected the claim of Mr Kakavas on the grounds that he was able to make rational decisions in his own interest, including refraining from gambling.
Some affected problem gamblers are convinced that it is better to turn against casinos with a class action, gathering as many injured parties as possible. The home of gambling class actions is Canada, where a record number of compulsive gamblers were collected. 11,000 gamblers were involved in the out-of-the-way case. They argue that after having realized that they were problem gamblers, they signed a so called “self-exclusion” contract, asking Ontario casinos to ban them out of their premises. As there was no facial recognition software at that time it was impossible for the casino staff to memorize thousands of faces, so the self-excluded parties could continue gambling unmolested. In August 2013 an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling declined the certification of the class action by problem gamblers. So the case is still not settled and it is possible to make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
There is a third aspect of gambling lawsuits which is filed neither by individual problem gamblers, nor by a group of them but by product liability lawyers. It is said that deceptive practices are used to lure consumers to make profits and gamblers become addicted, which is a serious illness that needs treatment and it is a financial burden to the society. On the basis of a former lawsuit when tobacco companies had to pay billions of dollars for the same reason, no wonder that casino companies do their best to protect themselves from the ‘gambling litigation study group’ consisting of 10 respected lawyers.
Casinos try to act responsibly ‒ no doubt and try to help to identify customers who might need treatment, but no one should forget that there are always to sides to a chip. In this case casino is the one, but ultimately the decision of playing is always in the hands of the gamblers.