Harrah’s Wins Case Versus Gambler With $188,000 Debt

  • Harrah’s in Atlantic City won a court case against an individual to recover $188,000 in debts
  • The plaintiff alleged that the casino knew he was a problem gambler when they extended him credit
  • However, the two-judge panel said the casino was under no obligation to refuse credit in this case
Harrah's Resort and Casino
Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City has won a case involving a debt of $188,000.

Details of the Case

An appeals court in New Jersey has taken the side of the Harrah’s Casino in a case involving a person saying he is a problem gambler. The decision allows Harrah’s to go after this individual to recoup his debt of $188,000 (£144,190), which was a credit extension.

The court sided with the casino because the player did not sign up for the self-exclusion program that the casino offers for those struggling with gambling issues. This would have stopped him from being able to gamble at the facility.

The man in question is Massimo Dangelico, who argued that the casino should not have given him a credit line to continue with his gambling because he is a compulsive gambler.

Key Points of the Case

He also has a track record of defaulting on his debt in various casinos. He claimed that his name appears on a central credit registry that means he is not able to obtain credit due to his poor record.

However, he did not convince the court that this type of registry even exists. Two judges on the appeal panel said that he could have contacted the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which maintains a list of players who block themselves or are blocked from receiving lines of credit.

The ruling said: “Even if he is a compulsive gambler, defendant cites no authority for the proposition that proof of that condition alone demonstrates incapacity to enter into an agreement to borrow funds for gambling.”

There are mechanisms to help problem gamblers protect themselves, but Dangelico made no effort to do so.

Where the Case Fell Apart

The plaintiff also failed to prove that the casino knew that he has a gambling problem. The judges noted that if this was the case and the casino was aware of his issues, there still was no legal obligation to not extend credit to him.

Harrah’s gave Dangelico an initial credit of $160,000 (£122.715). The collateral for this credit was bank checks, according to court filings. He told employees at the casino that there were enough pending funds in this bank account to cover the credit, but the checks eventually bounced.

The actual size of the initial judgment in favor of Harrah’s in 2016 at the Atlantic County Superior Court was $188,697.31. This includes credit costs that have accumulated in the interim period. Dangelico appealed that judgment.

Slippery Slope

This is a very important case because it sets a precedent for future claims. Problem gambling is a serious issue that afflicts countless people across the United States and in the world as a whole.

Levels of addiction are on the rise. It has never been easier to gamble and there are positive messages about gambling everywhere because of the extensive advertising campaigns for gambling companies.

However, unless it is proven that a company was negligent in giving credit to a customer when it was ware of gambling issues, it cannot be subject to a civil suit just because someone has a gambling issue.

Centralized self-exclusion lists are therefore vital. These lists are maintained by gambling governing bodies and they officially show that certain people have gambling problems and should not receive credit extensions or comps, or even be allowed to gamble.

In this Atlantic City case, the judges concluded: “We do not depreciate the financial ruin that may befall compulsive gamblers and their dependents. However, Harrah’s is in the business of operating casino gambling; defendant is its customer. The relationship is built on enabling gaming, not withholding it.”

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