Gambling addict sues casino for losses
Tycoon who blew £1.3m in 28 minutes claims he was lured back to the tables
Saturday 17 October 2009
Many a high-roller has lost his shirt at Melbourne's Crown casino, the largest gambling establishment in the southern hemisphere, but none, perhaps, in quite so spectacular a fashion as Harry Kakavas, who dropped 2.3m Australian dollars (£1.3m) in one 28-minute baccarat session.
During a 15-month spree at Crown, Mr Kakavas, a multimillionaire property dealer, turned over a total of A$1.5bn, betting up to A$300,000 a hand and ultimately losing A$20m. Now he is suing the casino – which is owned by James Packer, son of the late Kerry, himself a legendary gambler – claiming it lured him back to its tables despite knowing he was an addict.
The Victorian Supreme Court, expected to hand down judgment imminently, heard that the casino flew Mr Kakavas to and from his home on the Queensland Gold Coast in its private jet and gave him gift-wrapped boxes containing up to A$50,000 of "lucky money".
This happened, according to the evidence, after Mr Packer Snr spotted Mr Kakavas in 2004 in Las Vegas, where he had just lost A$4m. Mr Packer – who once reportedly offered to toss a coin with a Texan oil magnate for the latter's US$60m (£36.8m) fortune – telephoned Crown's chief operating officer, John Williams, to ask who Mr Kakavas was and why he was not playing at Crown.
In fact, the property dealer had voluntarily excluded himself from the casino in the 1990s, and sought treatment for a gambling problem. However he had continued gambling elsewhere, although he gradually excluded himself or was banned from almost every casino in Australia.
After Mr Packer's call, Crown executives decided to readmit Mr Kakavas, although they knew – according to his lawyer, Allan Myers, QC – that "when he got going at Crown, he could not stop". That was literally so on one occasion, when he gambled non-stop for 17 hours, caught a few hours' sleep, then hit the tables again.
Mr Kakavas, who is suing Crown for A$30m in losses and damages, told the court: "I don't know what [Guinness World Records] say, but it would be pretty close [to a world record loss]."
Crown disputes Mr Kakavas was an addict. The company, which is counter-suing him for A$1m, argues that he made his own choices. After banning himself, Mr Kakavas repeatedly lobbied Crown to be allowed back. Mr Williams described the A$2.3m loss in one sitting as not unusual for recreational gambling by a businessman.
- 1 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 4 Video shows what happens when lava is poured onto ice
- 5 Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?
Germanwings crash: The poignant final photograph taken by Iranian journalist on doomed flight after watching Barcelona play Real Madrid
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Vote Ukip, says far-right group Britain First
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...