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Can You Sue A Casino For Gambling & Losing?

Kenny Roger’s famous song “The Gambler,” tells people, “You got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away and know when to run.” It’s a cautionary tale about taking risks both in life and at the card table. And while most people accept that when you place a bet and take your chances, some people don’t handle a poor bet well when they lose the money. In most cases, especially here in Florida, the hand you’re dealt or the dice that are rolled are simply things you have to accept, and the law is firm about not giving back that money once you’ve bet it.

However, one man in Canada is challenging that assertion and suing a casino for negligence, trying to get back the money he lost.

The Dram Shop Law

In Florida, when it comes to drunk driving, this is illegal, and if the driver who caused an accident is proven to be driving under the influence, or DUI, criminal charges, in addition to lawsuits can be leveled against the responsible party. However, depending on the circumstances, a legal regulation known as “dram shop law” may be in play.

Dram shop law states that if a person is visibly intoxicated, and the establishment serving drinks does not “cut that person off,” and instead continues to sell drinks, or even actively encourages that person to buy more drinks, that establishment may also hold some responsibility and be open to a lawsuit. When it is clear that a person is likely to pose a threat to others due to intoxication, businesses that sell alcohol may be considered negligent if they ignore these signs. Only a handful of states, like Nevada, Nebraska, and Maryland, for example, do not enforce this ruling.

Does It Apply To Gambling?

Incredibly, Tarwindar Shokar of Canada is now claiming a similar precedent, but for casinos. According to the argument his lawyer is presenting, Shokar is a gambling addict, having already lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling, and even attempting suicide over his debts. Having failed to commit suicide, and being banned from certain casinos for his reputation, Shokar took out massive loans and directed travel agents to refer him to gambling tours in parts of Canada where he was not yet banned.

Shokar went to Caesar’s Casino franchise in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, where he continued to lose money from his loan. After his loss, he is now suing the Caesar’s Casino for not “cutting him off,” not doing due diligence in recognizing that he was banned from other casinos, exploiting someone that was mentally incompetent, and providing alcohol to encourage him to gamble while drunk. He is suing both the Caesar’s Windsor and the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation, a provincial government entity, for $260,000 in losses, and an additional $500,000 in punitive damages for allowing him to gamble when they should have refused entry.

Typical Premises Liability

Under ordinary circumstances, a property or managing company of a property can only be sued for premises liability. That is if there is some aspect of the property that can cause harm, such as stairwell with no windows and a broken lightbulb that could lead to a fall, or an escalator that is not working correctly that could hurt passengers, and the property chooses to do nothing, that puts them at legal risk.

Should an injury occur over a harmful aspect of the property that the management or owner ignored, and it can be proven in court, that’s a case of negligence. The responsible party is, in those situations, legally and financially responsible for the injury and should talk to a premises liability lawyer about the slip or fall.

In the case of a gambling addict claiming a casino was negligent for allowing him to enter, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in court.