There is nothing I believe in more than personal responsibility. However, that does not give a license to businesses, which are well aware of a person's problems, to try to exploit those problems for financial gain. The law takes a dim view on scam artists conning our elderly out of their life savings. We don't give bars a pass on liability when bars continue to serve someone who the bar knows is intoxicated.
A lawyer for a Tennessee woman who says the former Caesars Indiana took advantage of her gambling addiction told the Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday that Hoosier casinos have a responsibility to prevent compulsive gamblers from hurting themselves.
"The law protects the sick. It protects the helpless," Evansville attorney Terry Noffsinger told the justices.
Casinos have an implied duty not to prey upon players who can't control themselves, he told the justices in Indianapolis, even though court rulings elsewhere have held that casinos don't have to shield compulsive gamblers.
As a result, the casino industry and gambling law experts are watching the Indiana case closely.
The court heard about 45 minutes of arguments by casino lawyer Gene Price, Louisville, and Noffsinger, who is representing Jenny Kephart, an unemployed suburban Nashville resident.
The justices appeared skeptical of arguments, with some questioning why the casino doesn't have an obligation to customers, while others asked how far the courts should intervene in casino business practices.
A ruling is expected next year.
During a night of gambling in March 2006, Kephart said she lost $125,000 at the Harrison County riverboat, now renamed Horseshoe Southern Indiana. The casino sued Kephart after she failed to repay the money it loaned her to play blackjack.
Kephart countersued, claiming the Harrah's-owned boat aggressively pursued her with meals, limo rides and classy lodging, knowing she was addicted and had a $1 million inheritance.
It is a tough question and, for me, would turn on whether the casino managers knew about Kephert's gambling addiction when they began pursuing her business. If they knew Kephert had a gambling addiction, had inherited a $1 million dollars, and then intentionally went out and pursued her to gamble while armed with that knowledge, to me that would take the issue outside of personal responsibility and place at least some liability on the shoulders of the casino. I realize this won't be a popular position with my conservative friends, but I have a low tolerance for businesses which, for financial gain, target and prey on an individual's problems.