It is not unusual for addicted gamblers to take desperate measures to get more funds. Take the case of Wall Street businessman Mr. Carpersen who plead guilty on July 7th. He defrauded his own mother, other relatives and friends of nearly $40 million in a Ponzi-like scheme. Carpersen told the judge that he had been treated for “compulsive gambling and mental health illness” issues since his arrest in March (read more).
During this trial of Mr. Carpersen, a similar case continued in Canada. Shellee Spinks was a law clerk that defrauded her victims out of more than $4 million. It is alleged that she then managed to lose almost $3 million of that amount in a casino.
Casino owe duty of care to victims of “problem gamblers”
Now that casino, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, is being sued. According to the victims, the company knew that problem gamblers sometimes steal to feed their habit. Also, Ms. Spinks gambled vast sums of money over a relatively short period of time. Why did they not suspect that the money might have been stolen? Why did they not ask her about the source of the funds?
“This case illustrates, once again, the catastrophic social consequences caused by problem gamblers, those unable to resist the allure of a casino” (read more).
While the motions court judge dismissed the motion on the basis that the claim would fail, a majority for the Court of Appeal has now allowed the case to proceed. On June 10, 2016, the Court released its decision that a casino operator should maybe make inquiries of its gamblers that they are spending money they lawfully earned. They refused to close the door on the possibility that casinos owe a duty of care to victims of “problem gamblers”. The majority of the Court acknowledged that there are “formidable barriers” to ultimately finding such a duty (read more).
Claim still on the table
Although the Court agreed that casinos cannot be expected to conduct an individualized assessment of each of their customers to determine the wisdom of the decision to gamble, they did find that more may be expected when an individual is obviously addicted to gambling and out of control.
It is not decided what will happen to the victims defrauded by Ms. Spinks, and there is no judgment yet. But the fact that their claim is still on the table can be considered a small victory in the case against the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.