Sun City Resort not liable for self-excluded player’s $323,000 loss

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Posted on: June 6, 2022, 2:13 a.m.

Last update: June 6, 2022, 2:49 a.m.

A South African gambler who self-excluded from Sun City Resort in the country’s North West Province cannot sue the casino for allowing him to blow up 5 million rand ($323,000) using the his wife’s credit card.

Sun City Casino
South Africa’s opulent Sun City was arguably the world’s first integrated beach resort. But he can’t be sued by a self-excluded gambler who claims he should have been 86 before he blew six numbers on his wife’s card. (Picture: Daily Mirror)

That’s according to a Johannesburg judge, who ruled last week that the casino was under no obligation to reimburse the man.

Businessman Suhail Essack and his wife, Naseera Cassim, have argued that the casino operator, Sun International, was negligent in allowing Essack to gamble.

Essack is a compulsive gambler who got banned from the casino in 2017 by a court petition under Section 14 of the South African Gambling Act.

Duty of care

According to the couple’s lawsuit, Sun City owed him a “duty of care to ensure that he did not obtain access to his casino for the purpose of engaging in gambling activities.”

The plaintiffs argued that the casino has a responsibility to notify the police or evict a person whose name appears on the National Gambling Board’s self-excluded register.

But acting judge Andy Bester wasn’t buying it. Although he acknowledged that the gambling law imposed certain obligations on the casino, he determined that Essack could not be released from personal liability, despite his condition.

We must not lose sight of the fact that the first plaintiff is the author of his own misfortune. Having voluntarily entered the list of people excluded from gambling, he nevertheless went to the Sun City Casino and, of his own free will, lost a large sum of money there. Bester wrote in her decision.

“The plaintiff’s proposition implies that a compulsive gambler can keep his winnings when he violates regulations, but hold the gaming establishment’s licensee responsible for his losses. Such an unbalanced approach does not serve the purpose of the provision and is not in the public interest,” he added.

Bester said South African gambling regulations do not provide for Essack to have a civil remedy to recoup its losses.

Criminal trespass

In the United States, casinos can face fines or even license suspension for failing to comply with state regulations regarding self-exclusion programs. But most states limit disciplinary action to violations related to the mishandling of sensitive data and intentional or inadvertent marketing to excluded individuals.

However, customers that the casino identifies as excluded must be removed from the premises and could be prosecuted for criminal trespassing.

In most states, forfeiture of any winnings in this case is a condition for joining the self-exclusion program.

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