Under Irish law, there is no legal guarantee that lucky gamblers will be paid their winnings, according to a judge in the Circuit Civil Court. Judge Francis Comerford made the verdict in a lawsuit brought about by the complainant, Sayed Mirwais, against Automatic Amusements Ltd which operates as D1 Casino as well as against casino director Michael Donnelly.
Sayed Mirwais, age 36, resident of St. Mary's Place, Phibsborough, Dublin, stated the casino refused to pay him despite his multiple requests.
John Smith BL, Mirwais' attorney, said that his client claimed that D1 Casino located at Lower Dorset Street, Dublin, had denied paying him his winnings of €11,713 that he got after placing many bets on one of their automated roulette machines.
On the eve of March 2 and 3, 2015, Mirwais first won around €7,500. When he wished to cash it out, he was only given €2,500 in cash and the rest were chips worth €5,000. He was then told that he should play more and he will be paid at the end of that evening.
The court heard that right after he won again worth €6,713 that night, Mirwais was instructed by a manager that he can cash out. However, when he went to the cashier counter, the cashier told him that they have no more cash available for the night so he will be paid the next day. He was also told that an engineer would later check the roulette machine he played on.
Unfair Commercial Practice
Mirwais stated he was allowed by the casino to continue playing on the automated roulette machine in the hopes that he would lose, because the casino really had no intention of paying him for any of his wins. He said this constituted an unfair commercial practice.
Liam Bell BL, in defense of the casino, responded to Mirwais' statement, saying that there had been a ‘suspiciously high amount of money lost by that roulette machine'.
Mirwais denied that there was a flaw in the machine that let him play even if the screen indicated ‘no more bets' could be placed. Also, the casino claimed that he had been ‘under observation'.
The casino suspected that Mirwais altered the screen layout from single to double play mode so that he can switch a bet which had been placed in a previous game, letting him place a bet even when the roulette ball had already been settled. All that time, he had been unaware of this machine malfunction.
A Huge Jackpot (or is it?)
Did you know that in the United States, state laws normally protect casinos from machine errors?
Last October, a lady in New York thought she won a $42.9 million jackpot from a slot machine, only to be told later by Resorts World in Queens that the slot machine was programmed to pay out only a maximum of $6,500. Instead of becoming an instant millionaire, the single mom of four was only given the $2.25 win and a meal voucher for a steak dinner.
All of the slot machines in New York show a posted disclosure that says, "Malfunction voids all pays and plays." What's worse, state law bars a casino from giving the max payout when a machine error occurs.
A Huge Disappointment
Mirwais, an Afghan refugee who in his home country qualified as a doctor, said at court that the night before the incident, he had already lost €9,000 in the same casino. Therefore, he had won the money ‘fairly and squarely'.
He told the court, "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 Comerford explained that one needs to have a considerable amount of trust to place a bet on an automated gaming machine when one can't see what's happening. For that, the judge said he shall 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."
The judge further stated, "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."
He then dismissed Mirwais' claim and also refused the casino's application for their legal costs on the basis that they had only provided, by way of investigating, 10 minutes' worth of CCTV footage of that disputed night.