Judge Rules Ireland Casinos Don’t Have To Pay Players
In an unsettling ruling by a Dublin judge, casinos are under no legal obligation to pay players’ gambling winnings. The ruling came following Dublin resident Sayed Mirwaisal’s taking D1 Casino Club, a private members gambling venue in Dublin, to court over roulette winnings totaling €11,713, which the casino refused to pay.
Mirwaisal of St Mary’s Place, Phibsborough, was reportedly playing on an automated roulette machine at the casino when he racked up the five-figure sum.
Initially, the Dublin resident had won €7,500 on the machine, but upon trying to cash out from the casino Mirwaisal was told the venue didn’t have enough money at the ready to pay him out. He was then reportedly given €2,500 in cash and €5,000 in casino chips. The casino said he could collect the rest of his payout at the conclusion of the evening.
When Mirwaisal won an additional €6,713, the casino said he would have to return the following day to receive his winnings. The floor manager informed Mirwaisal that, due to suspected malfunction, the machine would be inspected by engineers to determine if his wins were legitimate.
Once it became clear the casino would not pay, Mirwaisal brought his argument to court. Mirwaisal accused the casino of unfair practices, pointing to the fact that he was given chips and told to continue his play before receiving the full sum of his winnings. He believes the decision was carried out in the hope he would lose his winnings and allow the casino to avoid payment entirely.
Legal representative for the casino, Liam Bell BL, claimed that the in the operator’s opinion the machine had released an unreasonably high amount of money in a short period of time. Bell raised the point that the casino suspected Mirwaisal of having taken advantage of a software malfunction, which effectively let him place wagers after the roulette wheel had stopped spinning and revealed the winning number. Mirwaisal denied the allegation of cheating and provided testimony that he had played the same machine the previous night and lost €9,000, stating, “When I was losing my money, the machine was ok and the casino was happy to take it, but when I won, they wanted to investigate.”
Judge Francis Comerford ruled that Mirwaisal would not be legally entitled to his winnings and therefore could not collect from the casino.
Judge Comerford drew his conclusion according to Ireland’s 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act, asserting the language of the law to clearly state that “every contact by way of gaming or wagering is void.” He adding that betting venues “can simply say ‘no you’re not entitled to the money.’ That is simply the law in Ireland.”
While the ruling may be concerning to Irish punters, who are the world’s third biggest losers at €470 lost each year on average, the same verdict rings true for operators. One such example comes from the case of John O’Shea, who took a massive loss on the 2015 Heineken Cup rugby match with book maker Sporting Index ltd. O’Shea lost a substantial €118,058 and simply refused to pay the bookmaker. According to the 1956 Gaming and Lotteries Act, the bookmaker’s hands were tied and O’Shea never had to pay.
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