Casinos not obliged to pay punters’ winnings

Punters winning big in casinos have no protection in law if operators fail to pay out, according to a judge who dismissed one man’s claim to thousands of euro based on laws dating back to 1956.

Sayed Mirwais, 36, won more than €15,000 but D1 Casino refused to pay. Picture: Courtpix

The case before Judge Francis Comerford in the Circuit Civil Court involved a man who won more than €15,000 over two nights at the D1 Casino in Dublin, but who alleged he had received only some of the winnings.

Sayed Mirwais, a married father of two with an address at St Mary’s Place, Phibsborough in Dublin, told the court he won the money after placing numerous bets on an automated roulette machine.

Counsel for the casino said there had been a “suspiciously high amount of money lost by the roulette machine”.

Mr Mirwais denied there had been a flaw in the machine but Judge Comerford said he had to rely on the Gaming and Lottery Act 1956 which states that “no action shall lie for the recovery of any money or thing which is alleged to be won”.

“If you happen to be too lucky while placing a bet or gambling, the person can simply say ‘no you’re not entitled to the money’. That is simply the law in Ireland,” the judge said.

David Hickson, director of the Gaming & Leisure Association of Ireland Ltd, said the case highlighted the need for a gambling regulator and that the Government needed to stop “dithering”.

Mr Hickson said there was “little or no consumer protection” under current laws, and that, “theoretically”, even bookies could hold back from paying out, although betting slips did mean “a paper trail”, which was not the case with machines or online games.

Mr Hickson said the long-awaited Gambling Control Bill, first published in 2013, needed to be implemented. He said: “I lay the blame with the political establishment. They are still dithering.”

Earlier this month, Junior Justice Minister David Stanton said Government would bring in legislation “at the earliest opportunity”, referring to the Gambling Control Bill, and the forthcoming Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, the latter to be brought to Cabinet by the Tánaiste this month for approval.

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