South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Addicted Gambler Cannot Sue Casino for Breach of Request to Keep Him Out
Description Appeals court held that a casino that was asked by a compulsive gambler not to admit him, but which it did, could not be sued by the gambler in tort or for breach of contract. The casino never agreed to ban him from the premises and had no obligation to do so.
Topic Contracts
Key Words Breach; Negligence; Gambling; Compulsive Gambler
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Merrill entered a clinic for compulsive gamblers in 1996. The clinic contacted the Trump riverboat casino on Lake Michigan to inform it that Merrill was a compulsive gambler who should not be admitted. Merrill wrote a letter to the casino, asking that he be evicted if he showed up. The casino put Merrill on its "eviction list." Merrill contended that created a contract by which the casino promised not to allow him to gamble. Two years later, Merrill began gambling again, ran up huge debts, and then robbed banks to cover his losses. He was caught, convicted, and sent to federal prison. He then sued the casino for breach of contract and in tort for $6 million for allowing him to gamble and incur high losses. The trial court held that no contract existed between Merrill, as the casino never promised Merrill to bar him from the premises. The casino had no obligation to prohibit Merrill from gambling. Merrill appealed, claiming the casino committed a tort.
Decision

Affirmed. Neither the statutes in Indiana that regulate gambling, nor the common law of Indiana, imposed a duty on the casino to eject Merrill so as to prevent him from gambling. Merrill's request, and the request from the compulsive gambling clinic, that he not be admitted to gamble, did not create an obligation. Further, the casino could not know that he would sustain such large losses that those would be the excuse he would use for robbing banks to cover his losses.

Citation Merrill v. Trump Indiana, 320 F.3d 729 (7th Cir., 2003))

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