Quite a lengthy article, but an interesting read.
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She says Caesars gave perks, credit
By Grace Schneider
Jenny Kephart's fondness for the blackjack table took her to a world of private jet rides, her own table and dealer in casinos, and lavish hotel suites where iced champagne awaited her arrival.
"My every whim," recalled Kephart, 52, of suburban Nashville, Tenn., who now admits she was a compulsive gambler. She said she has lost more than $900,000 at casinos across the country.
Eventually, her gambling brought her to Caesars Indiana in Harrison County and put her deep in debt. The casino filed a lawsuit against her in January for failing to repay $125,000 she had borrowed during a March 2006 visit to the riverboat owned by Harrah's, a company that had been making her special offers for years.
But Kephart, who is unemployed, is fighting back with a counterclaim alleging that Caesars enticed her with giveaways and made money for gambling available to her, even though trained casino workers should have identified her as a problem gambler and casino executives knew she had come out of bankruptcy just four years earlier, when Harrah's was one of her creditors.
Caesars' lawyer, Stephen Langdon of Frost Brown and Todd in New Albany, Ind., argued in court and in filings that Kephart never asked to be banned from the casino or other properties run by Harrah's, so the casino had no way to know that she was a problem gambler.
The casino lawyers declined to comment further about the case.
On Wednesday, Judge H. Lloyd Whitis in Harrison Circuit Court heard their motion to dismiss Kephart's counterclaim. He is expected to rule in a month or so.
Kephart's case centers on whether a casino has a duty to protect an addicted gambler from himself or herself.
Her lawyer, Terry Noffsinger of Evansville, contends that pathological gambling is widely viewed as a mental illness. He argued that Caesars' representatives knew that Kephart couldn't control her gambling binges but still took "affirmative steps to persuade her to gamble" by calling her at home and offering her credit and complimentary hotel rooms, meals and limousine rides.
In similar cases, Indiana courts have held that casino operators don't have to prevent customers from gambling and consequently aren't responsible for their losses.
But Noffsinger stressed that the law is not fully settled in cases involving problem gambling.
"If she had just gone in (to Caesars) on her own, that would be one thing," he said. Instead, he told the judge Wednesday, he intends to prove that casino officials knew that Kephart was an addicted gambler and that they pursued her because she had money to spare from a $1 million inheritance she received in 2004.
Indiana gambling regulations allow casinos to lend money to people it deems credit-worthy. The Indiana Gaming Commission has declined in the past to disclose the amount of credit that individual casinos extend to patrons, citing privacy law and trade secrets.
Noffsinger previously represented Evansville resident and professed gambling addict David Williams in a federal lawsuit in which the precedent that casinos have no duty to protect a compulsive gambler from himself was upheld.
California lawyer I. Nelson Rose, a gambling-law expert, said he believes the court precedent is well established. He also said many wealthy gamblers are offered credit of hundreds of thousands of dollars, so Caesars' decision to lend Kephart large sums is not unusual.
But Noffsinger said he believes Kephart's case is different because Caesars sued her first, and the casino invited her to visit.
In an interview at her home last week, Kephart said she decided to fight the claim against her because she thinks Caesars took advantage of her. "They ......