More often than not, gambling outcomes don’t always turn out the way we hope. It can be easy to feel disheartened when this happens, and while most people are capable of accepting the reality and moving on with their lives — others haven’t been able to deal with the news too well in the past.
For several casinos in the U.S. and around the globe, this has resulted in being pulled into costly lawsuits where they’ve had to shell out millions to relentless individuals who couldn’t take no for an answer. Here are five of them who appealed to the high courts and went down as some of the most famous gambling court cases in history.
Phil Ivey vs Crockfords and the Borgata
Phil Ivey has gained considerable prestige and admiration for his red hot poker skills over the years. Not only has he won ten World Series of Poker bracelets throughout his career, but he’s also secured himself a gold spot in the Poker Hall of Fame and held the honorary World Poker Tour title. At one point, he even became dubbed the best all-around player in the world. Despite all of these achievements, the 43-year-old has still had to defend his corner on a few occasions. The most notable of these was when he appeared in a UK-based High Court in 2014, following a dispute with the Crockfords casino in London.
The case transpired when the casino refused to pay out his winnings after Ivey and his accomplice, Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, were accused of “edge sorting” in a game of baccarat — a technique that involves analyzing the backs of cards before they are turned over. As Crockfords knew Ivey had a pending lawsuit with the Borgata after using this same approach in 2012, the operator decided to withhold his winnings. Unfortunately for the WSOP champion, the court never overturned their decision, and Ivey had to wave goodbye to the £7.8 million (10.2 million USD) winnings forever.
Katrina Bookman vs Resorts World Casino Genting
During her visit to the Resorts World Casino, New York, in 2016, Katrina Bookman jumped for joy when she discovered she’d hit a jackpot of $43.3 million on a Sphinx video slot. After taking shots of herself next to the machine, she was soon crushed by the news that the casino refused to pay out. The operator said that the machine had experienced a fault at the point Mrs. Bookman hit the life-changing amount, claiming she’d only won a measly $2.25.
To compensate for the so-called “mix up”, the casino offered the woman a complimentary steak dinner instead. Furious by the gesture and the audacious decision to withhold her winnings, Katrina took the case to court. Despite her attorney’s best efforts, however, the New York Gaming Commission supported the casino claims, and consequently, the courts were never able to reach a verdict.
Safa Abdulla Al Geabury vs Ritz Club
In a turn of the green tables, the London-based Ritz Club, which is located in the basement of the Ritz Hotel, took 53-year-old Safa Abdulla Al Geabury to court in 2015. The Swiss businessman allegedly made a cheque out for £2 million to the casino so he could continue playing at the venue’s roulette tables. The Ritz, however, denied receiving any form of payment for this amount.
In his desperate attempts to worm his way out of the debt, Al Geabury claimed he was a gambling addict and blamed the casino for allowing him to enter the establishment. The courts were unconvinced by his story, and the man was ordered to pay the multi-million debt to the casino in full. Even though Al Geabury was said to be a billionaire, he was never able to cough up what he owed, and was sent to the slammer for ten months for “contempt of court.”
Christian Hainz vs Two Swiss Casinos
One gambler who successfully managed to overturn the decision of the courts was compulsive blackjack and roulette player Christian Hainz. In a controversial case against two casinos in Switzerland, Hainz said he lost over €2.5 million ($2.96 million USD) across three years to the venues. Due to his compulsive gambling addiction, the 40-year-old gambler then claimed that he was entitled to have his money given money back.
The man also claimed that the casino staff was fully aware of his evolving gambling habit during the time he spent at the venues between 1997 and 2000. Hainz said that they would try to manipulate him by not putting any limits on his excesses and encouraging him to stay at the tables all night. Even though he didn’t receive the full sum of what he’d spent, the Austrian Appeals Court ordered the group which owns both venues, Casinos Austria, to pay a settlement of €499,729.
Bruno Venturi vs EuroBet Casino
It’s not just brick-and-mortar casinos that have succumbed to lawsuits over the years. Online casinos are just as much at risk of having to foot player bills and settle court cases if a player decides to trip them up, and vice versa. An example of this is when the gambling site EuroBet based in Surrey, UK, refused to pay out a £650,000 jackpot to 41-year-old Bruno Venturi in 2009. The Italian man had supposedly won the jackpot from an £18 bet on the Sixty Seconds lotto game.
The casino operators were said to have congratulated Mr. Venturi for his substantial win initially. But later, it claimed that it would not pay out his jackpot because the game had experienced a malfunction. Unfortunately, the site’s terms and conditions stated that computer glitches weren’t covered, and despite several appeals, Venturi never saw a penny of his winnings.
The Gambling Industry will Always be Rife with Controversy
Even though casinos generally have the upper hand in their own establishments, it’s not always the case when the case itself involves the courtroom. The good news is that most disputes are settled in an amicable fashion, and they rarely escalate to prosecution on either side.
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