Sydney casino ordered to pay disabled man $320,000 for refusing to cash out winnings
A $285,000 jackpot won with the help of a banned Star player cannot stand and must be paid out, a court in Sydney has ruled.
On Friday, David Joe was awarded nearly $320,000, including interest, in the district court which found the casino unlawfully refused to hand over a jackpot won on October 25, 2019.
Joe, who has a Platinum Vantage VIP membership and suffers from motor neurone disease, asked his friend Lois Lie to help him run the slot machines at the casino.
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“In the context of their machines playing for many hours, (Joe’s) really significant disability clearly deprived him of the ability to operate the machines himself for enjoyment,” Judge Robert Montgomery wrote.
That day, the pair put $10 into the Year of The Tiger machine and won the jackpot along with other prizes.
Joe claimed that The Star had agreed that he could have a friend’s help to operate the slot machines.
However, the casino refused to release the winnings, saying Lie signed a voluntary exclusion order in October 2016, was banned from the premises and was not entitled to any winnings.
In ordering The Star to pay the $285,000 jackpot plus nearly $35,000 in interest, Judge Montgomery found that the money had been won by Joe, not Lie, and could not be withheld.
The judge concluded that Joe was the one taking all the economic risk by telling Lie which buttons to press and providing all the money wagered.
“The entire economic stake wagered during the operation of the slot machines by Mr. Lie, while (Joe’s) card was inserted and he watched and gave instructions to Mr. Lie, was the money of (Joe),” Judge Montgomery said.
Joe was also unaware that his friend had been banned because he had had unlimited access anyway for six months at the time.
Lie told the court he assumed the exclusion order had been revoked since he had not been prevented from entering the premises and playing there.
The Star’s final jackpot payment to the Responsible Gambling Fund and not to Joe was based on an unwarranted assumption that he could keep the money, the judge said.
“As a result, (The Star’s) failure to pay the winnings to (Joe) … was misunderstood and breached the betting contract between plaintiff and defendant.”
The casino was also ordered to pay Joe’s legal costs.
The Star has been contacted for comment.