A former milkman today lost a world-first case which aimed to make clubs responsible for the actions of problem gamblers.
Chris Reynolds had sued the Katoomba RSL Club in the NSW Blue Mountains, accusing it of failing to prevent him gambling away thousands of dollars.
The NSW Court of Appeal today dismissed his case, and ordered him to pay costs.
Mr Reynolds, 36, had sued the Katoomba RSL for more than $57,000 in 1999, arguing it had breached its duty of care by cashing personal, business and third party cheques, as well as giving him credit, between 1992 and 1994.
The NSW District Court was told Mr Reynolds had previously told the secretary manager of the club he was a problem gambler.
When that court ruled in December 1999 that Mr Reynolds was a free citizen and responsible for his own actions, he took his case to the Court of Appeal.
Rejecting his appeal today, Justice Philip Powell said Mr Reynolds had to accept responsibility for his own actions and there was no duty of care owed to him, nor any unconscionable conduct, by the club.
“Save only that the club could have refrained from Slot Deposit Pulsa cashing cheques … or could have placed a limit on the amount for which … cheques could have been cashed … there does not appear to have been anything which the club could have done either to prevent Mr Reynolds using the gambling facilities in the club or to limit his use of those facilities,” Justice Powell’s judgment stated.
Solicitor for Mr Reynolds, Simon Moran of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), said the decision was disappointing.
“It’s clearly a disappointing case for our client, it’s a disappointing result,” he said.
“However, this is the first time a case of this sort has been run anywhere in the world so we expected it would be difficult to have a good result for our client.”
But Mr Moran indicated the decision may not be the end of the matter, with a possible appeal to the High Court.
“We have to look at the decision, we have to study it carefully and see if there are any avenues there to appeal in this case,” he said.
He estimated about $20,000 had so far been spent running the case.
Mr Moran said he thought some clubs might take advantage of the judgment.
“I think some clubs out there are doing the right thing, I think there are some clubs that are not and some clubs are going to take advantage of a ruling like this,” he said.
Mr Moran said Mr Reynolds was no longer gambling.
London Clubs plunges as US casino may fold
Shares in casino operator London Clubs International Plc (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: LCI.L) plunged more than 56 percent on Friday after it said events in the U.S. may force its Las Vegas business to file for bankrupcy.
At 1304 GMT shares in the company, which also operates casinos in London and Egypt, were down 56.8 percent to a year low of 5-1/2 pence.
London Clubs said it was likely the situation would “significantly reduce revenues and profitability” at its Las Vegas casino business, Aladdin, in the short to medium term at least.
In July the group said it had agreed a refinancing package that would raise its Aladdin stake to around 85 percent from 40 percent.
Back then it said it would make a 50 million pound ($71.32 million) provision to reduce the total carrying value of its investment in Aladdin, resulting in a pre-tax loss of 51.7 million pounds for the year ended April 1 from a profit of 10.2 million the year before.
The $1.3 billion Aladdin mega-resort has been hit by cost overruns, delays and strong competition since its opening in August 2000. It warned in April it might fail to meet its financial obligations without debt restructuring or extra cash.