High-Rolling Gambling Addict Sues Australia’s Crown Resorts After Losing $3.3M

  • Ahmed Hasna is suing the casino group for the AU$4.5m+ he lost at Crown Melbourne
  • Staff admitted their treatment of Hasna was irresponsible and “possibly” predatory
  • Hasna gambled an average of $13,927 every second day between 1993 and 2019
  • Crown invited him back to its Mahogany Room to bet on credit despite a bounced cheque
  • Hasna’s ban only came in 2020 despite his mom pleading with staff to stop him gambling
  • Crown said the group would defend the claim, while Hasna’s lawyer declined to comment
patrons playing at games machines at Crown Casino Melbourne
A problem gambler is suing Crown Resorts for the millions he lost at Crown Casino Melbourne (pictured above) between 1993 and 2019. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

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.

Australian business daily The Australian Financial Review said Hasna’s action is the first individual claim arising from the Victorian commission into Crown, as part of its investigation into problem gambling. The newspaper added that multiple investor class actions were active in relation to Crown’s behavior over the past ten years. It also referred to a royal commission in Perth and questions circling in connection to Crown’s casino licenses in Melbourne and Sydney.

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.