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Crown Casino Not Liable for Gambler’s Losses, Court Rules

Crown Ltd.’s Melbourne casino isn’t liable for losses incurred by a gambler who wagered almost A$1.5 billion ($1.4 billion) on baccarat in just over a year, Australia’s top court ruled.

Harry Kakavas, one of Crown Melbourne’s first patrons when it opened in 1994, claimed the gaming company exploited his pathological urge to bet. He sued the casino in 2007 seeking to recover A$20.5 million of losses he incurred between June 2005 and August 2006.

Kakavas claimed the casino knew he was a pathological gambler, a diagnosis accepted by the trial judge, because he bounced a A$47,500 check within five months of enrolling as a patron.

The High Court of Australia today rejected the contention Kakavas’s pathological interest in gambling made him susceptible to exploitation by Crown, according to a summary of the court’s ruling posted on its website.

“He was able to make rational decisions in his own interests,” according to the summary. “Crown did not knowingly victimize the appellant by allowing him to gamble.”

Baccarat is a card game where the objective is to beat the bank with a card score closest to nine.

The case is Kakavas v. Crown Melbourne Ltd. 2013HCA-25. High Court of Australia (Canberra).

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