Call for ban on casino inducements - Wednesday 9th of December 2009

INDUCEMENTS like those given by Melbournes Crown Casino to pathological gambler Harry Kakavas should be banned, an anti-gambling campaigner has said.

Crown wooed Mr Kakavas during his $1.5 billion gambling spree at the casino with private jets, limousines and boxes containing $50,000 cash.

In return, Mr Kakavas lost $35 million at the casino.

Today Mr Kakavas failed in the Victorian Supreme Court to sue Crown for "preying" on his gambling addiction.

Chairman of Inter-Church Gambling Taskforce Mark Zirnsak expressed disappointment at the judgment, saying he had hoped it would set a precedent for other gamblers seeking to recoup their losses.

"We think this case sends a clear message that we need government to step in and clearly spell out that gambling providers and casinos have a duty of care towards their patrons," he said.

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"We think those kinds of inducements should be banned. Particularly casinos targeting high rollers. They are out to get people to lose as much as possible."

Mr Zirnsak said it was clear casinos took advantage of vulnerable people.

"We do think casinos prey upon people to get them to spend as much as they possibly can. But, I guess, that is in line, unfortunately, with many businesses seeking to maximise how much they can make," he said.

"What we are seeing here is that under the current law the level of duty of care they have towards their customers is very limited."

In his judgement, Justice David Harper noted Crown presented itself as a world leader in responsible gambling.

"Its relationship with Mr Kakavas does not give one any confidence that it deserves that status," Justice Harper said.

Mr Zirnsak agreed that Crown should not be considered a leader when it comes to responsible gambling.

"We think they have a long way to go to make that claim," he said.

Crown Casino spokesman Gary ONeill said the organisation was not prepared to comment on the judgment yet.

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