A Gold Coast man is suing Melbourne's Crown Casino for $30 million he lost gambling in just over one year, claiming the gaming venue lured him in with cash and other incentives.
Harry Kakavas, a property developer, had himself legally banned from the casino in 1995 in the hope of halting his gambling problems. But he alleges that Crown's chief operating officer, John Williams, "devised a scheme" to bring him back to their high roller tables.
Williams allegedly instructed Crown employees "to do what was necessary" to lure Kakavas in again, The Age reports.
According to Kakavas, Crown provided its own private jet on about 30 occasions to fly him to various holiday and business destinations.
Sometimes when boarding the plane or entering a hotel room the casino had arranged for him, Kakavas claimed he would find between $30,000 and $50,000 cash in a box or bags waiting for him.
In a statement of claim by Kakavas, lodged in the Supreme Court yesterday, he said that Crown's interstate marketing manager, Richard Doggert, told him all he needed to come back was a letter from "any psychologist" saying he was over his gambling problems.
"What do we have to do to get you to come back to Crown?" Dogger allegedly asked. "Johnny Williams really wants you back here."
Upon hearing rumours that Kakavas had been gambling in Las Vegas, Crown Casino's VIP gaming vice president Ishan Ratnam allegedly called him on behalf of Williams.
"You don't need to fly 16 hours to Vegas, when you have a two-hour flight to Crown," Ratnam allegedly said.
"Johnny Williams said that we will let you bet more than what Vegas allows you, up to $300,000 per hand, and we will give you a 20 per cent rebate on losses."
Between 24 June 2005 and August 2006, Kakavas was allegedly back gambling at the casino after being provided a $1.5 million credit. The statement of claim alleges during that time "Crown won $30 million … by means of ill practice."
Kakavas claims the conduct of Crown was designed to cause him to lose "substantial amounts of money", and it violated Victoria's Casino Control Act.
After having moved to Queensland from Melbourne, Kakavas sold his house for $18 million in September 2004.
In 1999 he was charged with armed robbery along with two other men, but the charges were all later dismissed.