Sydney’s The Star casino ordered to pay $320,000 to disabled player David Joe

A $285,000 jackpot won with the help of a banned player at The Star cannot be withheld and must be paid out, a Sydney court has ruled.

On Friday, David Joe was awarded nearly $320,000, including interest in the District Court, which found the casino illegally refused to award a jackpot won on October 25, 2019.

Mr. Joe, who has a Platinum Vantage VIP membership and suffers from motor neurone disease, asked his friend Lois Lie to help him operate the slot machines at the casino.

“In the context of his gaming machines for several hours, (Mr. Joe’s) truly significant disability clearly deprived him of the ability to operate the machines for himself for enjoyment,” Judge Robert Montgomery wrote.

The Star Casino, operated by Echo Entertainment Group Ltd., is illuminated at dusk in Sydney, Australia, on Monday, August 10, 2015. Echo Entertainment is scheduled to report full-year results on August 12.  Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg
camera iconThe star casino. Credit: Brendon Thorn/Bloomberg

On the day, the couple invested $10 in the Year of the Tiger machine and won the jackpot among other prizes.

Mr. Joe claimed that The Star had agreed that he could enlist the help of a friend to operate the slots. However, the casino refused to release the winnings, saying that Mr. Lie had signed an opt-out order in October 2016, was banned from the premises and was not entitled to any winnings.

In ordering The Star to pay the $285,000 top prize plus nearly $35,000 in interest, Judge Montgomery found that the money was won by Mr. Joe, not Mr. Lie, and could not be withheld.

The judge found that Mr. Joe was the one bearing all the financial risk by telling Mr. Lie which buttons to press and providing all the money wagered.

“All of the economic wager wagered during Mr. Lie’s slot machine operation, while (Mr. Joe’s) card was being inserted and he was watching and giving instructions to Mr. Lie, was (Mr. Joe’s) money, Judge Montgomery said.

Mr. Joe also didn’t know his friend was banned because he had had unrestricted access for six months anyway.

Lie told the court that he assumed the exclusion order had been revoked as he was not prevented from entering the premises and gambling there.

The final jackpot payment from The Star to the Responsible Gaming Fund and not to Mr Joe was based on an unwarranted assumption that he would be able to keep the money, the judge said.

“Consequently, (The Star’s) failure to pay the winnings to (Mr. Joe)…was in error and in breach of the wagering contract between Plaintiff and Defendant.”

The casino was also ordered to pay Mr. Joe’s legal costs.

The Star has been contacted for comment.

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