A California high roller was awarded more than $8 million by a Las Vegas federal court jury that agreed he was defrauded by Park Place Entertainment and its Paris Las Vegas resort.
Lawyers for multimillionaire gambler Steven Mattes argued that Paris executives lured the big bettor to the megaresort’s September 1999 grand opening by promising him a $2 million credit line and then reneged on the marker offer after he lost millions of his own money at the resort.
On Friday, Park Place spokesman Robert Stewart said the company was disappointed by the jury’s Thursday decision.
“We strongly believe the verdict was not supported by the facts presented at trial,” Stewart said. “We intend to appeal.”
He declined to discuss the case further.
Bill Eadington, director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming, at the University of Nevada, Reno, suggested the award may not stand up on appeal.
“Gamblers suing casinos often elicit sympathy,” Eadington said. “Juries are different. It’s a Vegas jury. You can get people who just don’t like casinos. It’s obvious in this case that the jury didn’t like the defense.”
Nevertheless, Eadington said the verdict is bad publicity for Paris Las Vegas, Park Place and for Nevada’s casino industry.
“You can’t ignore a verdict of this size that cites fraud,” he said.
Nevada Togel Hongkong gaming regulators agree.
Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said Friday the board has already launched a preliminary investigation of the case to determine if it warrants a full-fledged inquiry.
In his lawsuit, Mattes, 42, of Tarzana, Calif., argued that resort bosses changed their minds about offering the gambler a $2 million credit line in order to lock in Mattes’ losses as big first-day wins for Paris Las Vegas.
Instead, a Paris Las Vegas casino host tried to get Mattes to gamble at the Las Vegas Hilton, where he had another line of credit, Mattes’ original complaint noted.
“(Park Place casino host) Tom Bonnani informed Mr. Mattes that the real reason for revoking the credit line and expelling Mr. Mattes to the Las Vegas Hilton, which is owned by Park Place, was that they were concerned with the bottom … line for the grand opening and wanted to show a profit, and that Mr. Mattes’ numbers made the grand opening look great.”
When Mattes complained, Paris Las Vegas representatives also lied to other casino operators, telling them Mattes was possibly involved in a check-kiting scheme, Reno lawyer Kevin Mirch said. Their intent was to try to keep Mattes from taking his business to competitors, the attorney said.
Additionally, Park Place and Paris Las Vegas casino bosses fraudulently created bogus markers for Mattes, claiming he owed more than he actually lost, his lawyer said Friday.
“This is a real guy who likes to gamble, who enjoys the high roller treatment,” Mirch said of his client. “He doesn’t have a gambling problem.”
Mattes had seven-figure credit lines at several Las Vegas hotels, Mirch said.
“We caught them stealing money from a high roller in Las Vegas,” Mirch said. “They falsified documents. Bottom line, they lied. They flat-out cheated him.”
Mirch said he wasn’t surprised by the jury verdict. “We caught ’em faking documents, and they claimed that they didn’t have videotapes of Mattes,” Mirch said. “They were really arrogant.”
Mirch expects the judgment to be signed Monday, but noted it is still subject to post-trial motions.
An appeal could also be filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, he said.
Las Vegas casino gambling expert Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, said that if Paris Las Vegas and Park Place reneged on a deal to provide credit to Mattes, they were wrong.
“That would be gutless,” Curtis said.
But the verdict was “five times worse,” Curtis said. “Is it worth $8 million? Absolutely not. It sounds excessive.”
“This wasn’t a runaway jury,” he said. “They could have given him $20 million or $30 million.”
In its decision, the jury awarded Mattes:
• $2.56 million for a breach of contract claim.
• $1.5 million for punitive damages.
• $1.47 million for conversion, defined by Mirch as “civil embezzlement.”
• $1.2 million for breach of good faith and fair dealing.
• $1 million for defamation.
• $300,000 for negligence, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.