A state appellate court Friday upheld a ruling that will allow Harrah’s Resort to collect a six-figure debt from a self-described compulsive gambler.
The panel upheld an earlier Atlantic County Superior Court decision against Massimo Dangelico who received a $160,000 loan from the casino against a $200,000 line of credit. In its opinion, the court found that a casino has no “duty to withhold credit from a compulsive gambler” and further added that the “relationship (between a casino and a gambler) is built on enabling gaming, not withholding it.”
The appellate court granted Harrah’s summary judgment in the amount of $188,697.31, which included the initial loan, interest and attorney’s fees.
According to court documents, Dangelico secured a loan from Harrah’s through counter checks drawn on his bank. The counter checks included his representation that funds on deposit with the bank equaled the loan amount. Harrah’s deposited the checks when Dangelico failed to repay the loan but the bank dishonored them due to insufficient funds.
In his appeal, Dangelico did not contest the essential facts of the loan, his default, or the dishonoring of the checks. Rather, his defense hinged on the argument that Harrah’s should not have extended the credit because he was a compulsive gambler, had defaulted on “markers” with other casinos, and his name was in a “central credit registry” that stipulated he should be denied loans “because of (his) affliction.”
Dangelico did not identify the registry, according to court records, “let alone prove that he is on it and that (Harrah’s) was, as a result, barred from extending him credit.”
The court noted that Dangelico failed to provide evidence that Harrah’s was aware he had a gambling problem. Furthermore, the appellate court wrote that “even if he is a compulsive gambler,” Dangelico could not point to anything that would preclude him entering into an agreement to borrow funds for gambling.
The court also noted that Dangelico did not exercise his ability to place his name on a self-exclusion list maintained by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.