James Packer-backed group faces lawsuit
Ahmed Hasna, a high-roller with a serious gambling addiction, is suing Australia’s Crown Resorts casino group, which is majority backed by media magnate James Packer, for over AU$4.5m (US$3.3m).
Melbourne local government councilor and award-winning journalist Stephen Mayne took to Twitter on August 10 to share news of Hasna’s suit, which he said “could well finish up as a class action”:
Hasna is suing the casino group for the almost US$3.3m he lost after staff admitted their treatment of the high-rolling gambling addict at Crown Melbourne was irresponsible and “possibly” predatory. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a statement of claim filed with the Federal Court has Hasna accusing Crown of “unconscionable conduct and breaking its own code of conduct by allowing him to continue gambling and even incentivising him to do so with free holidays and tickets, and the ability to bet ‘on credit.’”
unconscionable conduct and breaking its own code of conduct by allowing him to continue gambling”
Hasna states that he gambled at the casino located on the Yarra River in Southbank, Melbourne almost every second day between 1993 and 2019, with “an average bet in a given period of up to approximately $19,000” (US$13,927). One gambling stint lasted more than 26 hours without a break, with Hasna alleging that Crown was, or should have been, aware of his gambling problem.
Invited to gamble on credit
The Herald reports that Hasna’s gambling experience at the casino came under the scrutiny of the Victoria Royal Commission in June 2021 as it was looking into Crown’s suitability to hold a casino license.
Hasna had advised Crown employees that he was in financial difficulties and was thinking about banning himself
The commission heard how the casino group invited Hasna back to its notorious Mahogany Room to wager on credit even after he lost AU$100,000 (US$73,305) of chips purchased with a cheque that subsequently bounced. The invitation came after Hasna had advised Crown employees that he was in financial difficulties and was thinking about banning himself from the casino.
The admission that Crown’s actions were irresponsible and “probably” predatory in relation to Hasna came from the Melbourne casino’s head of VIP customer service, Peter Lawrence, in a submission to the Victoria commission.
Gambling addict’s mom’s pleas went unheeded
Hasna’s statement of claim also highlights how Crown Melbourne did not put a halt to his playing even after the intervention of his mother. He said his mom pleaded with casino staff on two occasions to stop her son from gambling away “all of the family’s money.”
Hasna demonstrated abusive behavior towards employees when losing.
The claim adds that Crown Melbourne didn’t permanently bar him until December 2020, despite “several recommendations” from casino security that it should, after Hasna demonstrated abusive behavior towards employees when losing.
According to the Herald, a spokeswoman for Crown said the group would defend the claim. Hasna’s lawyer, meanwhile, has declined to comment on his client’s behalf.