Gambler wants casino to return his losses
The Detroit News
Detroit -- Italo Mario Parise has sworn off gambling for good.
The 61-year-old professional engineer indulged his appetite for cards, slots and game tables at MotorCity Casino in Detroit for a decade, losing $673,854 of his own money.
Looking back, Parise says he believes he was brainwashed by the casino to keep coming back to gamble more.
And now that he says his head is clear, Parise -- who says he hasn't set foot in a gambling hall since March -- wants his money back from the casino he blames for his losses.
In what appears to be the first lawsuit of its kind in Michigan, Parise is suing MotorCity Casino to recover his money, claiming the gambling house had a duty -- under an obscure Michigan law -- to stop him when he was down.
The statute -- called "gaming: action by loser" -- has been on the books since 1961 and remained there after the passage of Proposal E, which established non-Indian casinos in Michigan in 1996.
In the suit, to be heard Friday in Wayne Circuit Court, Parise alleges the casino "knew or should have known of his enormous financial losses" and did not make any attempt "to aid" him in stopping them.
In an interview with The Detroit News, Parise said the casinos market themselves as places of entertainment when they are in, in his opinion, illegal operations that deceive the public.
"These places, they suck people in. It's not gambling, it's brainwashing. They take money from you until it is gone," he said.
MotorCity's lawyers say the lawsuit is "frivolous" and are seeking to have the case dismissed and sanctions filed against Parise's attorney.
Rick Kalm, head of the Michigan Control Gaming Board, called the lawsuit "unusual" and said he is not familiar with the 1961 law. A spokesman with the Attorney General's office declined to comment on the case or the statute.
In preparation for the case, Parise's lawyer, Frank A. Cusumano, said he searched for other lawsuits using the statute to recover losses and could find none, suggesting this case is the first of its kind in Michigan.
Lawyers for MotorCity said no Michigan statute exists that allows a casino patron to sue a casino for gambling losses. Attorney Patricia Nemeth said Detroit Entertainment, which operates MotorCity, says the company does not comment on pending litigation.
But in a court filing on behalf of Detroit Entertainment, attorney Deborah Brouwer says nothing in the Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act, which governs casinos, states that a person who loses money at a Detroit casino may sue for recovery of those losses.
Such a provision "would be the death knell for the Detroit casinos, none of which would be able to remain in business if forced to return gambling losses to disgruntled gamblers," the brief says.
Robert Stocker II, a Lansing attorney and gaming law expert with Dickinson Wright, said the law allows a person to pursue a cause of action only in cases of illegal gaming in Michigan. The Michigan Gaming Control and Revenue Act specifically authorizes casino gambling in Michigan and says any other law inconsistent with that is nullified.
"Attempts periodically are made throughout the United States by an individual to recoup gaming losses. I'm not aware of any specific cases with success. Lots of very creative attempts have been made but generally this stuff is not successful," Stocker said.
Lawyers for MotorCity said compulsive gamblers get help from the state already via a $2 million compulsive gaming prevention fund to assist problem gamblers, a toll-free compulsive gaming helpline number and the ability to be placed on a "disassociated persons list." A person on such a list is barred from three Detroit casino halls for life.
As of Aug. 19, the list contained the names of 2,221 people.
Cusumano maintains he has a viable case against the casino and has set up a Web site with a page on how to sue casinos to recover gambling losses. He says the law actually dates back to 1827 when Michigan was a territory and has remained on the books since statehood in 1837.
Parise, who filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy in Detroit in 1996 and had his case discharged or cleared in 2000, gambled from 2000 through March 22 of this year, losing $577,549 at the slots and $96,305 at table games such as blackjack.
During the time period cited in the lawsuit, Parise says he won $5,450.
Parise says he has lost opportunities for business contracts because of his gambling losses. He says he went to MotorCity officials and placed himself on a house ban until the end of the year. He has no plans to place himself on a disassociated person's list because he maintains he is not addicted to gambling and has no plan to gamble again.
"I have no desire to gamble. I swear on my father's grave. You can't win. It will ruin your life," he says.
February 2023 January 2023 December 2022 November 2022 October 2022 September 2022 August 2022 July 2022 June 2022 May 2022 April 2022 March 2022 February 2022 January 2022 December 2021 November 2021 October 2021 September 2021 August 2021 July 2021 June 2021 May 2021 April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008