Atlantic City’s casinos have no legal obligation to stop compulsive gamblers from betting, U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Cox Arleo ruled last Wednesday, dismissing a lawsuit from a self-described problem gambler against the Borgata casino and its parent company, MGM Resorts International. The judge’s decision highlights the legal landscape surrounding casinos’ obligations to prevent compulsive gambling behavior.
Arleo’s ruling emphasized that casinos in New Jersey are not legally required to intervene or prevent compulsive gamblers from placing bets. While the state extensively regulates casinos concerning compulsive gambling, there is no mandate regarding the prevention of individuals with addictive behaviors from patronizing these establishments.
“The New Jersey Legislature has not yet seen fit to require casinos to prevent or stop inducing gambling from those that exhibit problem gambling behavior,” Arleo wrote. “As a matter of law, (the) defendants do not owe a negligence common law duty of care to plaintiffs.”
Sam Antar, the plaintiff in the case, expressed disappointment with the court’s decision, highlighting the broader societal implications of gambling addiction. He emphasized the need for legislative action to address the issue and stated his intention to appeal the dismissal.
“This is not just about me; this is about all the people across this country who have this addiction,” Antar said. “When are we as a country going to address this?”
Antar’s lawsuit alleged that despite his self-professed gambling addiction, the Borgata casino continued to entice him with gambling offers, exacerbating his condition. However, the judge’s ruling concluded that casinos like Borgata do not bear a legal obligation to prevent or mitigate gambling addiction in patrons.
The legal precedent set by Arleo’s decision echoes similar rulings in other states, including Indiana, where lawsuits targeting casinos for their role in gambling addiction have been dismissed.
Antar’s case also brings attention to New Jersey’s self-exclusion program, which allows individuals to voluntarily exclude themselves from gambling activities. While casinos are required to honor this list, fines have been imposed on establishments for failing to prevent self-excluded individuals from gambling.
The lawsuit filed by Antar against the Borgata and MGM Resorts International raises complex legal questions regarding the responsibilities of casinos in addressing problem gambling. Antar’s legal counsel intends to appeal the decision, arguing that New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act should apply in this case to protect consumers from exploitative practices by companies.
“I’m going to appeal this decision. I believe this is not just about me. This is about the people who have this addiction. They’re taking advantage of people,” Antar asserted.
Sam Antar’s personal background adds a layer of complexity to the case, given his familial connection to Eddie Antar, the founder of Crazy Eddie electronics stores, who was involved in a significant fraud scheme. Antar himself has faced legal troubles in the past, including convictions related to fraudulent activities.
Despite his own history, Antar has taken on a role as an informal counselor for individuals struggling with gambling addiction, drawing from his personal experiences to raise awareness about the potential consequences of compulsive gambling.