They say that the house always wins. This time, the house got a little help from the court system.
The Crown Casino in Melbourne scored a big legal victory when the High Court of Australia ruled that they did not have to give back the millions lost by gambler Harry Kakavas over the course of about a year. The court case, which dragged on for several years after the losses were incurred, focused on whether or not the casino knew they were taking advantage of a problem gambler, or whether these were the losses of a man who was in control of his actions.
Kakavas, a businessman from the Gold Coast of Australia, was a long-time patron of the Crown Melbourne, visiting the casino ever since it opened in 1994. In 2005 and 2006, he lost about $19.6 million playing baccarat after betting nearly $1.4 billion over that period.
But Kakavas said that these huge bets were the result of being exploited by the casino. According to him, the casino had to know he was a pathological gambler, as he had bounced a check for A$47,500 ($45,400) just months after he started playing at the Crown. He also claimed that he had been lured into playing more by being offered lavish incentives, such as the use of the casino’s private jet.
However, while an earlier trial judge had accepted the fact that Kakavas was a pathological gambler, they did not believe that the casino had taken advantage of this fact. This ruling was then upheld by the Victorian Court of Appeal, and the same reasoning was shown by the High Court in the recent ruling.
“Crown did not knowingly victimize the appellant by allowing him to gamble,” said a summary of the judgment made by the high court. “[Kakavas] was able to make rational decisions in his own interests, including deciding from time to time to refrain from gambling altogether.”