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Kakavas Case Against Crown Casino Heads to High Court

Tue, Feb 26, 9:31am by Ed Scimia

Could a Greek gambler receive some serious compensation from the Crown Casino? According to a story in the Greek Reporter, gambler Harris Kakavas is seeking $20 million in compensation from the Melbourne casino, saying that the Crown willingly took advantage of his gambling addiction in order to make more money off of his play.

Kakavas has brought some evidence to the table that has given his case at least a little weight in Australian courts. It’s clear that Kakavas was a big time gambler, having lost over $30 million in 2005 and 2006, and during this time, he wagered nearly $1.5 billion at the casino. In addition, Kakavas – who says he hid his gambling from his wife – brought in a psychology professor to testify that he was “a compulsive gambler.”

That alone wouldn’t be enough to get a refund from the casino, of course. But Kakavas says that casino staff knew he was a compulsive gambler, yet still allowed him to gamble at the casino until all of his money was gone. In fact, at one point, Kakavas says that casino management actually drove him to a bank so that he could withdraw the money remaining in his bank account to gamble it away.

“I had only $345,000 left in the account,” Kakavas testified. “The casino gave me a car to go and make the withdrawal. I got the money, I went back to the casino and played. I lost everything.”

Karavas has also pointed to the fact that Crown ignored or forgot about a NSW police exclusion order that essentially banned Karavas from the casino, and wouldn’t have allowed him to keep his winnings. In other words, his lawyers saw, Karavas could only lose by going to the casino – and the casino knew it.

Of course, not everyone sees this story quite the same way. Judge David Harper, who heard the case, did criticize the Crown for the way it handled Kakavas, and said that the casino very well may have contributed to his gambling addiction. However, he did not find that the casino was responsible for the player’s losses. Moreover, it was found that Crown hadn’t acted unconscientiously in forgetting about the police exclusion.

The case will ultimately be heard in the High Court on April 4. If Kakavas is able to win his case, experts say it could have a major impact on the gambling industry. After all, if gamblers suffering heavy losses can sue to have their money back, casinos will need to be much more careful when it comes to how they interact with customers.

That said, Crown doesn’t expect to lose the case, pointing to the way in which the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal have already ruled.

“This case failed miserably,” the Crown has stated in their defence. “[The] judge found there was no evidence at all of a conspiracy to exploit the appellant.”

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