In old-school Las Vegas, it is commonly accepted that street justice was the preferred method for keeping gamblers honest. It’s gone in Sin City, but is apparently still alive and well in Argentina, although it’s going to cost a casino a lot of money.
A court judge has ordered the City Center Rosario Casino to pay up following an incident that occurred over six years ago. It will have to hand over ARS5 million (US$35,560) unless a higher court overturns the verdict, which is now on appeal.
In May 2016, the then-48-year-old unidentified gambler was at the casino, looking for Lady Luck on a slot machine. He noticed that the buttons on the machine didn’t work properly, so he began using the old-fashioned lever. Unfortunately, that proved to be an almost fatal mistake.
Perhaps unaccustomed to gamblers resorting to the old-fashioned slot action, casino security apparently misinterpreted what was going on. The lawsuit explained that the lever made noise as the gambler operated it, which the staff interpreted as aggression toward the machine on the part of the patron.
Casino personnel rebuked him for what they assumed was him physically attacking the slot. He then got up to find another slot, but security intervened.
They took him to a small room, according to the lawsuit, where they beat him before handing him over to local police. However, they never charged him with any crimes.
The beating was apparently much worse than he initially realized. After returning home, he began urinating blood. In addition, he started bleeding from his ears. Ultimately, he lost the use of 15% of his body.
Three days later, together with his lawyer, he filed a complaint with the local Prosecutor’s Office. The subsequent investigation requested surveillance footage from the casino, but it wasn’t available.
By that point, the casino had already recorded over the previous recordings. This would prove to be the casino’s Achille’s heel in the lawsuit.
When the case finally made it to trial, casino representatives denied the accusations. They said that staff saw the plaintiff hit the machine, disturbing the peace and attacking company property. In addition, they indicated that the man attacked employees and security personnel.
However, the lack of surveillance footage to corroborate their version opened a chasm that the judge exploited. In ruling for the plaintiff, he led in by explaining that the victim had entered into a contract that falls within Argentina’s Consumer Protection Law.
In this context, the gambler was enjoying a moment of recreation at the casino, for which it had the obligation to provide a safe environment. Since it was unable to support its version of the events with any evidence, this tipped the scales in favor of the victim.
The judge added that, at a minimum, the casino had an obligation to retain the surveillance footage given the nature of the incident. Since it didn’t, it was negligent and irresponsible. That, he added, made it guilty, as well.
The ruling indicated that casino personnel mistreated and beat the man. It added that the financial penalty is justified by the lack of evidence on the part of the casino and the evidence supporting the physical assault the gambler received.
The man won’t be able to keep all of the money, though. He will only receive 30% (about $10,670), while the rest will go to a support group for gambling addicts.
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