Gambler who lost $30m sues casino - Friday 15th of February 2008

JAMES PACKER was aware of a plan to lure a chronic gambler back to Melbournes Crown Casino and personally authorised several large cash payments to him, according to legal documents lodged in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Mr Packer denies the claims by the gambling addict Harry Kakavas, who also alleges he was told by the former Crown chief operating officer John Williams that Kerry Packer would "kill us" if he found out about the payments.

The allegations are part of a $50 million damages claim by Mr Kakavas, who alleges he was targeted by Crown Casino, despite voluntarily excluding himself from every major casino in Australia.

While travelling in Crowns Lear jet in September 2005, Mr Kakavas claims he was told by Mr Williams, stepson of the former Crown owner Lloyd Williams, that the cash payments had been authorised by James Packer. "Williams told the plaintiff [Mr Kakavas] that if Kerry Packer found out about the cash payments on the jet he would kill us.

"Williams said that the reason was that Kerry Packer is the biggest gambler in the world and he does not get cash given to him to play at a casino," it was alleged in court documents that were lodged yesterday.

The Gold Coast property developer claims he was told by Mr Williams: "for every $100 million you turn over, up to $400 mil lion, we will give you $100,000."

Mr Williams will face allegations of "accessorial liability" in what is shaping up to be a landmark case for the Australian casino industry. He was moved to London to oversee Crowns international expansion less than two months after the claims were first made last March.

The Crown Casino spokesman Gary ONeil said Mr Packer categorically rejected the allegation that cash payments to Mr Kakavas had been authorised by him.

"This is a transparent attempt to link James Packer to litigation that he has no involvement in. The writ was issued almost a year ago and there was no mention of this allegation," Mr ONeil said.

Mr Kakavas lost $30 million on Crowns baccarat tables during a 14-month gambling spree that began in June 2005. He alleges Crown ignored an Interstate Exclusion Order issued by former the NSW police commissioner Peter Ryan in September 2000 and repeatedly induced him back to Crown Casino

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