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Harry Kakavas Sues Melbourne Crown Casino for Billion Dollar Losses

Thu, Apr 25, 1:00am by Kevin Pitstock

Crown CasinoHarry Kakavas, an Australian real estate mogul who lost over a billion dollars to the Crown Casino, is suing the Melbourne gambling house over his losses. Harry Kakavas made a fortune in the Gold Coast real estate business. He also gambled in Melbourne, Macao, and other top gambling destinations.

Back in 2009, lawyers for Mr Kakavas dropped a bomb when they announced he was suing the casino for over $700 million. Australian gambling enthusiasts may be surprised to know the legal actions are continuing on into 2013.

How Much Kakavas Lost

In all, it appears the businessman lost around $1.5 billion Australian at the Crown Casino alone. He once lost $20.5 million during one 16-month baccarat phase. That’s nothing in comparison to the $164 million the former billionaire lost in one 5.5 hour session at the Crown Casino back in May 2006, also while playing baccarat.

All of these figures would be incredible enough, but it appears Harry Kakavas lost massive amounts of cash in Macau and Las Vegas, where he also took gambling trips (often on a whim). Years later, regrets are turning into legal actions.

Legal Basis for the Lawsuit

The legal basis for the lawsuit is a 2000 New South Wales law which requires gambling operators who know they are dealing with a problem gambler to stop taking wagers from that player, effectively banning them from the operation. Harry Kakavas’s lawyers claim the Melbourne Crown Casino’s management knew he was a problem gambler when they took his action, so they were breaking the law in continuing to let him play.

Lawyers for the plaintiff produced a letter where the casino’s management refused to take his bets, until Kakavas gave them a letter from a licensed psychologist proving he was not impaired in his reasoning (at the gambling table). This letter is now being shown as proof the proprietors knew the former high roller had major issues with problem gambling.

Pathological Addiction

The case highlights the dangers of problem gambling, which is a growing issue with lawmakers and voters in Australia. Harry Kakavas had been one of the wealthy elite of Australia–described as the “highest of high rollers”–but he was reduced to borrowing millions from banks to support his habits. Harry eventually borrowed money from friends and family and, when that wasn’t enough, he stole $286,000 to support the habit. This landed the man in jail for a short time, though a man must have good lawyers to steal that amount and not spending more time behind bars.

Will It Work?

So far, his lawyers haven’t been good enough to impress Australian judges. Two courts have thrown out lawsuits involving these complaints. Four years later, the legal actions continue. These days, the legal team for the former Gold Coast real estate millionaire is asking for reduced sums of money. This might prove more successful than the grander strategy back in 2009, but despite increasing support for gaming addiction, most people (including judges, it would seem) don’t have much sympathy for someone who can’t control their betting urges.


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