Here’s a closer look at attempting to sue a live or an online casino if you have a massive losing streak. Be prepared. The story that we are about to share is staggering in its description of gambling addiction. If you think that you have a problem with gambling, we encourage you to seek help.
Addicted Gambler Sues Casino for Losses of $1 Million
When Arelia Margarita Taveras began to make the occasional trip to Atlantic City, she was only seeking to relax and get away from the pressures of a dual career. A promising attorney and television commentator, Taveras like to hit up the blackjack tables for a few hours before enjoying the amenities of a casino.
Her occasional trips soon turned into weekly visits that would last for days on end. Taveras was allowed to bring her dog into the casino and keep it in her purse as she played blackjack. She would sometimes stay at the blackjack table for days, falling asleep in her chair now and again. The casino personnel made no attempt to curtail her behavior or slow her down. According to Tavares, they never once tried to intervene regarding her compulsive behavior.
When Arelia reached her personal bottom, she had lost all of her money, a home, and even her parents’ home. She also racked up a $58,000 tax bill that she had no way to pay. Taveras told NBC news that she considered suicide as a way out. Somehow, she avoided this permanent solution to a temporary problem. Instead, Arelia Margarita Taveras sued six Atlantic City casinos for her losses. She asked for $20 million in damages.
The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, but the tragic story doesn’t stop there. Just a year after filing her suit, Taveras was jailed for stealing more than $130,000 from her own legal clients to finance her gambling addiction. She was also disbarred as an attorney.
Why Suing Casinos for Losses Doesn’t Work
The story of Arelia Taveras is just one of many. Perhaps you heard about the woman who sued a casino for the loss of a $43 million jackpot. Katrina Bookman was told by a slot machine attendant that she won a jackpot on a slot machine. The supervisors at the casino disagreed, claiming that the machine malfunctioned. Instead of $43 million, the casino offered Bookman a nice steak dinner.
Some cases like that of Bookman seem to have a little merit. Other cases are just examples of addicted gamblers looking for a way out. Neither scenario usually ends well. Casinos benefit from inherent protections of the state gaming commissions that regulate them. One of these is that players accept a possibility of loss when they gamble. It’s a precedent that is well-established in court.
Casinos are also considered to be private establishments, and those who visit them are guests. The courts generally take the opinion that casino guests are adults responsible for their own choices in life. The rare exception usually involves mental impairment, but casinos do a pretty good job of addressing this issue. It is unlikely that someone with a mental handicap would be allowed to even enter the premises without a guardian.
Finally, the states that regulate and license online casinos don’t have much interest in punishing a valuable source of revenue. This is especially true when the complaint is lodged by someone that obviously has a problem with gambling.
Player Motivation for Suing Casinos for Losses
Players that have hit rock bottom are motivated by many factors when it comes to attempting to recoup money that has been lost. They may be facing foreclosure, an imminent divorce or loss of family relationships, or even loan sharks and debt collectors. The situation can become so dire that, like Taveras, the player considers suicide. Some even succeed at this tragic option.
When the famous Suitcase Man showed up at the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas wanting to bet the contents of his suitcase on a single roll of the craps dice, the story became legendary. He won, but what no one mentions is that he later returned with another suitcase for a second roll. After losing, the Suitcase Man committed suicide.
No one can really know what someone else is going through when they decide to sue a casino to recover gambling losses. We should perhaps be wary of judging some of these individuals too harshly. It is probable that most of them feel like suing is their last option. They may believe that they have no other way to ever recover the money that they have lost, and that is probably true. As we saw in the case of Taveras, that was millions. If she was stealing the money from her clients, the number could have easily gone much higher.
Remember – You Have Options
We want to conclude by giving you a reminder that it is possible to avoid suing a casino when you lose at gambling games. The way to do that is to prevent a problem before it starts.
Signs that you may have developed a gambling problem can be spending too much time in the casino, playing with money that has been set aside for bills or other needs, and borrowing money to gamble. If you have experienced any of these we encourage you to reach out to your state’s gaming commission. You can also ask casino personnel for any resources they may have to assist with problem gambling.
You can also ask to be voluntarily banned from entering a casino. This is a very effective method for some people. The casino will put you on a list and prevent you from entering the casino. If you reach a point where you feel you have overcome your problems, you may ask to be removed from the list.
The one option that will probably not work out well for you is trying to sue the casino. It has been tried on many occasions and is almost always a losing effort.