He claims the casino is to blame and wants another $15 million in damages. Though it sounds like a long shot, he might just win.
Harry Kakavas was the Crown's privileged guest - a big gambler and high roller in a world where corporate jets, holidays and gift boxes full of cash are standard perks.
Between 2005 and 2006 Kakavas turned over more than $1.5 billion with bets of up to $300,000 a hand at Crown Casino. And he lost heavily - in one instance $2.3 million in just 28 minutes.More stories from Today Tonight
Now the pathological gambler has won the right to take the country's biggest casino to the nation's highest court.
According to David Galbally QC "if he's successful then it sets an enormous precedent."
Galbally says "I think the very first thing that he'll have to show is that there is a duty of care owed by Crown Casino to him and secondly that they've breached that duty of care.
"Without a doubt if the High Court comes down in favour of Harry we would see tighter regulations by the casinos and the gambling establishments."
According to anti-gambling crusader Senator Nick Xenophon "the fact that Harry Kakavas has got leave to appeal to the High Court is significant in itself."
Senator Xenophon says it is a very rare win. "The High Court only grants leave to appeal in one in twenty cases, presumably for the big issues at stake, and it could end up making a new law in the country when it comes to problem gamblers."
Kakavas was one of Australia's top selling real estate agents, making his fortune on what was known as the Golden mile - Hedges Ave on the Gold Coast. But his luck ran out inside the walls of Crown.
After losing $20.5 million the property developer took Crown to the Victorian Supreme Court for failing to provide a duty of care. The court heard the pathological gambler had taken out a self-imposed exclusion order, essentially banning him from entering any casino in the country. Kakavas claimed that Crown knew about the ban, ignored it, and continued to lure him back him with enticements.
The property tycoon's case was dismissed by the Supreme Court. Justice Harper ruled in favour of Crown Casino but also served up his critical assessment of their practices.
"Crown does not present itself as a world leader in responsible gambling. Its relationship with Mr Kakavas does not give anyone confidence it deserves that status," Justice Harper said.
Deakin University's Associate Professor Linda Hancock, a world gambling expert, agrees. She says "generally they compared them to Vegas casinos rather than world's best practice - Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada."
225 Crown casino staffers have blown the whistle on the failures of Crown in a study published by Professor Hancock, which showed a rare insight into the company's operations.She found that:
- 65.3 per cent don't advise customers to take regular breaks;
- 55.3 per cent would not intervene when gamblers are distressed;
- 81.2 per cent don't approach people who are having gambling problems;
"I think we should be getting to the stage where we have mandatory closure of casinos - at least for eight hours," Professor Hancock said.
Kakavas will have his case heard in the High Court next year. It will be his final chance to recover millions of dollars in losses and damages.
Anti-gambling crusaders believe the only real change will occur when State Governments take independent action.It is a big money-spinner for State Governments but should they crack down on casinos and other gambling businesses?
- Regulatory Failure? The Case of Crown Casino - www.scholarly.info
This reporter is on Twitter at @LyndaKinkade
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