Court: Harrah's Didn't Need to Cut Off Compulsive Gambler

This story was published more than 5 years ago.

This week a federal court ruled that Harrah's in Atlantic City was not legally obligated to cut off a problem gambler from betting, as he racked up $188,000 in debt to the resort.

Massimo Dangelico had sued to have his $188,000 debt at the casino wiped out, claiming that Harrah's had an obligation to stop him from accruing the debt. He claims that his name was on a "central credit registry" and that this puts the blame on the casino for his actions. Unfortunately for Dangelico, he never placed himself on New Jersey's self-exclusion list, which stands as the only method that legally compels casinos to stop a player from gambling.

A judge ruled that Harrah's had not been proven to have shown negligence, as they haven't seen proof that the casino knew Dangelico is a problem gambler. The judge also said that the Plaintiff should have reported his actions to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, something he never did.

The court laid another big smack to Dangelico, ruling: "Even if he is a compulsive gambler, defendant cites no authority for the proposition that proof of that condition alone demonstrates incapacity to enter into an agreement to borrow funds for gambling. Compulsiveness does not belie understanding the nature and effect of one's actions."

"We do not depreciate the financial ruin that may befall compulsive gamblers and their dependents. However, Harrah's is in the business of operating casino gambling; defendant is its customer. The relationship is built on enabling gaming, not withholding it."

With the ruling, the Plaintiff is now on the hook for the full sum of a previous judgment that Harrah's obtained against him.

About the author

Dustin Jermalowicz // News Editor
Dustin Jermalowicz
Dustin has a long-standing passion for gambling. He has been writing professionally on the subject and breaking industry news for Casino Listings since 2011. His favorite casino games include Blackjack, Poker, and Hi/Lo. A proud native of Detroit, Dustin currently lives in Michigan.
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barbadosslim93's picture
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30 April 2019 - 5:42pm

I dont know how I feel about this. I mean they just willy nilly give him that much dough without looking into his gambling habits? Of course, at the end of the day he is responsible for his actions.

Tricky one. I'd reckon that if the guy does indeed have an addiction and we're treating it like a disease, then there has to be some monitoring of the guy by the casino.


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5 May 2019 - 6:49pm

I think people should accept their own actions as their own. Years ago I lived through addiction and I've always taken responsibility for what I've done and the decisions I made. I really dont think it should be these casinos responsibility to watch and monitor people in order to detect compulsive gambling behavior. As shitty as that sounds, and as much as casinos could prevent stories like this from happening, I dont think babysitting grow adults should be a responsibility of theirs.

People need to ask for help, talk to a friend or family member. There are so many different options to make anonymous phone calls just to talk or make enquiries even if you think you may have a problem. I encourage anyone living through any type of addiction to reach out and take the first uncomfortable step, and ask for help. If you're brave enough to take that first step, there will be easier.


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6 May 2019 - 4:45pm

I'm with you on that Kris, think a grown adults should first take a responsibility themselves before blaming or suing anyone else for it's own problems...saying that the casinos have to follow their duties toward community as well and I'm sure that guy would of win that court battle if he had ever placed himself on the self-excluded list...maybe he wasn't aware of that...but no one is obligated to help you if you're not seeking for help anyway.

Probably that's harsh but right now it looks like he had planned to sue the casino if his losses getting out of control...