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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Could there be light at the end of the gambling tunnel?

Some lessons are only learned, it often seems, when a monetary penalty is imposed, when someone sues for civil damages. The tobacco industry is a case in point. Science could not put them in their place, but damages claims can. It is to be hoped that - in time - gambling will suffer a similar fate.

To-day, in Australia, we may see some light at the end of a tunnel. We hope it is not extinguished.

A well-heeled problem gambler has established at law that he has a case against Crown Casino here in Melbourne.

Currently, gambling venues get away with grand larceny. They can lure and entice to their hearts' content and disclaim any responsibility. Problem gamblers can steal from their employers and lose the money over the gambling tables or down the machines but gambling entities are not held liable for receiving stolen property and are never forced to repay it. Families and their property can go down the drain because of a problem family member but no corporate entity is ever held to be liable.

To-day, Justice David Harper may well have set in train events which could change all that. Miss Eagle sincerely hopes so.

NOTE: Justice Harper was appointed a Queens Counsel in Victoria in 1986 and in New South Wales in 1989 after a distinguished career at the Victorian Bar which began in 1970. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in March 1992. He is currently Chair, International Humanitarian Law Advisory Committee of the Red Cross (Victorian branch). He has had a long and active involvement with the Victorian Bar (1980-91) and was the Chairman in 1990-1. Justice Harper served as a part-time Commissioner of the Victorian Law Reform Commission from 1991 until its abolition by the Liberal Government in 1992.