Saturday, March 8, 2008

"Gambling is worse than crack because it's mental"

See, she lacked self-control and that's not her fault. Hell, her losses are a conspiracy! Read on...

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (March 8) AP - She was an ambitious lawyer and TV commentator who started going to Atlantic City casinos to relax, and soon was getting high-roller treatment that included limousines whisking her to the resort city.

Arelia Margarita Taveras says she was even allowed to bring her dog, Sasha, to the blackjack tables, sitting in her purse.

But her gambling spun out of control: She said she would go days at a time at the tables, not eating or sleeping, brushing her teeth with disposable wipes so she did not have to leave.

She says her losses totaled nearly $1 million.

Now she is chasing the longest of long shots: a $20 million racketeering lawsuit in federal court against six Atlantic City casinos and one in Las Vegas, claiming they had a duty to notice her compulsive gambling problem and cut her off.

"They knew I was going for days without eating or sleeping," Taveras said. "I would pass out at the tables. They had a duty to care of me. Nobody in their right mind would gamble for four or five straight days without sleeping."

Experts say her case will be difficult to prove, but it provides an unusually detailed window into the life of a problem gambler.

"It's like crack, only gambling is worse than crack because it's mental," said Taveras, 37, a New Yorker who now lives in Minnesota. "It creeps up on you, the impulse. It's a sickness."

She lost her law practice, her apartment, her parents' home, and owes the IRS $58,000. She said she even considered swerving into oncoming traffic to kill herself.

In interviews with The Associated Press, Taveras admitted she dipped into her clients' escrow accounts to finance her gambling habit. She was disbarred last June, and faces criminal charges stemming from those actions, but is trying to work out restitution agreements in order to avoid a prison term.

Her lawsuit names Resorts Atlantic City, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, the Tropicana Casino Resort, the Showboat Casino Hotel, Bally's Atlantic City, as well as the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The casinos deny any wrongdoing, maintaining in court papers that Taveras brought her problems on herself. Casino representatives either declined to comment for this report or did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Read the rest here.

Thoughts? I've often wondered how the casinoes have kept themselves out of court while gun manufacturers, cigarette companies and taverns all have been creamed in court. I mean, it's not like there's any shortage of money-sucking attorneys in Vegas.

Of course, it looks like this particular test case is a bit flawed as the plaintiff is an attorney with a bit of an checkered history anyhow. Apparently she's been charged with stealing money from the survivors of 9/11 victims. Nice.


Bay in TN said...

Wow, Steve, you make a great point by drawing parallels between gambling and smoking, drinking, etc. All the other vices have gone down with hardly a whimper! Maybe gaming is next?

Of course, I'll be sitting on the sidelines, shaking my head and grumbling about the total lack of personal accountability at the cost of freedom. Yeah, I fasten my seatbelt and I quit smoking, but please leave me *some* of my vices, Amerika!

This is just fascinating. Can't wait to hear how it all turns out!

twallack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
twallack said...

My colleague Steve Bailey recently wrote a column, mentioning the work law firm Ropes & Gray does defending casinos against "alleged compulsive gamblers." Here's the key excerpt:

Boasts David Stewart, the Washington-based partner who heads Ropes's gambling practice: "We have never lost one." That is what the cigarette companies used to say, too, once upon a time. Stewart has made a cottage industry of beating little guys like Johnnie Brown and Milan Stulajter, just to name two.

Take Stulajter. According to court documents, the Indiana man admitted he was a problem gambler and filed with Harrah's a "permanent self-exclusion request and release," barring him from all Harrah's casinos. (Tell me another industry where the customers sign a legal document asking they be permanently prohibited from buying the product.) Not long afterward, Harrah's started sending him marketing materials touting its casino, and sure enough Stulajter began playing again, losing $70,000.

Johnnie Brown wasn't a compulsive gambler; she says her husband was. She sued Argosy Casino, saying her husband, a former General Electric executive, had gambled away their life savings. In her suit, she asked that her husband be barred from the casino, saying he had turned into a stranger since going to the riverboats. "Nobody realizes what I'm going through," she told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It has made my husband a whole different person."

Stewart and the casinos won both cases. The courts ruled that people are responsible for their own conduct.

The column is at

Anonymous said...

Well people are responsible for their own actions. If you keep hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, eventually you'll either stop doing it or die a slow painful death. It's up to you.

ShortWoman said...

Apparently she's been charged with stealing money from the survivors of 9/11 victims. Nice.

Where else was she going to get gambling money?