Top 5 Gambling Court Cases and Legal Suits

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The Scales of Justice. Image Credit: Unsplash

Gambling is a lot of fun, but sometimes the outcome is not always what we plan.  In rare instances, casinos were taken to court to settle disputes with disgruntled players.

One can argue that, more often than not, the outcome of gambling does not turn out the way we hope.  Of course, this can quickly leave you disheartened, but for most of us, the reality soon sinks in, and we move on with our lives.

However, some individuals don’t take losing too well.  For several casinos around the world, this resulted in costly lawsuits against persistent individuals who couldn’t take no for an answer.   

Here are five cases that reached the level of high courts in a tug-of-war between a player and a casino:

1. Phil Ivey vs Crockfords

Phil Ivey is renowned for his red-hot poker skills.  Throughout his career, Ivey has scooped up ten World Series of Poker bracelets, as well as a spot on the august World Series of Poker Hall of Fame.  At one point, Ivey was dubbed as the best poker player in the world.  However, Phil Ivey had to appear in a UK high court in 2014, following a dispute with Crockfords casino in London. 

The basis of the case was that Crockfords refused to pay Ivey his winnings, accusing him of “edge sorting” or analysing the back of cards during a game of baccarat.  Crockfords knew Ivey had a pending lawsuit against him by the Borgata casino for using the same technique with them in 2012.  In the end, Ivey lost and had to part with his winnings, amounting to US$10,2 million.

2. Safa Abdulla al Geabury vs Ritz Club

Based at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in London, the exclusive Ritz Club took the Swiss businessman, Safa Abdulla al Geabury, to court in 2015.  Geabury alleged to have written out a £2 million cheque to the casino to continue playing at a roulette table, a claim that the casino denied.   

Al Geabury admitted he had a gambling problem and blamed the Ritz Club for allowing him to enter.  The courts were unconvinced by al Geabury’s story and ordered him to repay his multimillion debt to the casino in full.  Geabury was unable to settle this debt and was, subsequently, sent to prison for ten months for contempt of court.   

3. Katrina Bookman vs Resorts World Casino

During a visit to Resorts World Casino in New York in 2016, Katrina Bookman hit the jackpot on the Sphinx video slot, winning US$43,3 million.  However, when she tried to claim her prize, the casino operator informed her that the slot machine experienced a fault at the time the jackpot prize came up and told her that she only won US$2,25.

As compensation, the casino offered Bookman a complimentary portion of steak and fries.  Furious with this perceived audacity, Bookman took her case to court.  Sadly for her, the courts could not reach a verdict, and she ultimately went home empty-handed.

4. Bruno Venturi vs EuroBet Casino

Online casinos are just as likely to land themselves in a legal quagmire as their land-based counterparts.  This happened when EuroBet refused to pay Bruno Venturi a £650,000 jackpot in 2009.  According to Venturi, he struck gold while playing the Sixty Seconds lotto game.

Initially, the casino congratulated Venturi on his impressive win.  However, EuroBet later withheld the winnings, claiming that the game had experienced a malfunction when Venturi was playing.  In the end, Venturi never saw a penny of his prize since the online casino terms and conditions didn’t cover computer glitches.

5. Christian Heinz vs Casinos Austria

In a controversial case against two Swiss casinos, a compulsive gambler by the name of Christian Heinz claimed that he’d lost close to US$3 million over three years at the venues.  Heinz argued that due to his compulsive gambling problem, which the casino staff were fully aware of, this money should be refunded back to him.

Heinz further noted that the casinos manipulated him by not limiting his spending and encouraging him to spend entire nights behind a gambling table.  In the end, even though he didn’t receive the full amount of money that he spent, the Austrian Appeals Court ordered the group that owns both venues, Casinos Austria, to pay him a settlement of half a million euros.

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