Australian high-roller sues casino

MELBOURNE: A compulsive Australian gambler banned from Sydney's casino blew more than two million dollars (1.5 million US) on the card tables in a neighbouring state in just 43 minutes, a court heard.

High-flying property developer Harry Kakavas is suing Melbourne city's Crown Casino in the Supreme Court of Victoria for facilitating his pathological betting, despite knowing he had a problem.

Kakavas, 42, was banned by Sydney police from attending the local Star City Casino and he claims the exclusion order should have been enforced Australia-wide, national newswire AAP reported.

Instead, his lawyers said rival casino Crown knowingly offered to fly Kakavas to Melbourne on at least 14 occasions and left him gift boxes of 50,000 dollars in "lucky money" on the private jet to help him gamble.

During a period of 16 months in 2005 and 2006 Kakavas allegedly turned over 1.5 billion dollars, and was allowed to bet single hands of 300,000 dollars, AAP reported.

He lost a total of 30 million dollars, and is suing Crown and its executives for about 20.5 million, AAP said.

Crown's lawyer Neil Young said Kakavas was eventually banned from gambling at the casino in August 2006 after losing two million in 43 minutes at the baccarat table.

But he rejected claims that Crown had attempted to take advantage of Kakavas.

"There was no effort in any sense of the word to lure Mr Kakavas to Crown," Young said.

If Crown is found to have breached the Casino Control Act by allowing Kakavas to gamble it could also be liable to pay 700 million dollars in illegally-paid winnings to the Victorian state government.