Most people will be familiar with the phrase “the luck of the Irish”.
However, rather than the understanding that Irish people are born with a curious excess of good fortune, the phrase instead originates from mining in the 19th century.
With many minors in this period being of Irish or Irish American birth and gold rushes being common in these communities, the connotations were that it was nothing more than sheer luck that they had run into wealth, rather than any type of intelligence.
Fast forward a few generations and the famous saying may now need a slight tweak, especially in relation to those who like a flutter in Ireland.
A legal loophole
“No action shall lie for the recovery of any money or thing which is alleged to be won.
“If you happen to be too lucky while placing a bet or gambling, the person can simply say ‘no you’re not entitled to the money’. That is simply the law in Ireland”.
This was the assessment of Judge Francis Comerford, who referred to the Gaming and Lottery Act 1956 during his ruling of a recent court case.
The case in question relates to when Sayed Mirwais believes he should have been paid €11,713 after a visit to the D1 Casino in Dublin after several assumed winning bets on an automated roulette machine.
Reports suggest that Mr Mirwais’ initial victory was approximately €7,500, of which he was initially paid out €2,500 in cash and the remainder in chips that he could gamble with again, on the understanding that he would receive the full amount later in the day.
It was after returning to the machines that Mr Mirwais continued his winning streak, earning a further €6,713. With this sort of money not available on site, the balance was arranged to be paid the following day, while the generous machine was booked to be checked by an engineer.
The opinion was that Mr Mirwais may have found a flaw in the machine, where using a particular screen layout gave him the capacity to re-place a bet, which had initially been placed on a previous spin, after the “no more bets” message was displayed.
It was even argued that a bet could be placed after the roulette ball had stopped spinning and had come to rest in its final number.
Mr Mirwais denied this and pointed out that he had lost €9,000 in the same casino on the previous night. He reportedly told the court: “When I was losing my money, the machine was okay and the casino was happy to take it. But when I won, they wanted to investigate.”
The end result was Judge Comerford referencing the 1956 Act, dismissing Mr Mirwais’ claim and also refusing the casino’s claim for their legal costs having 10 minutes of CCTV footage of the night in question.
It is logical why a casino would be sceptical if a machine was proving a winner too regularly. After all, they are typically programmed in a way to pay out a certain amount. If the numbers don’t add up, the obvious conclusion is that there is some foul play in the process.
The initial perception for casino customers in Ireland is obvious a negative one. Why would a visitor want to risk their money on the understanding that a casino will gladly keep it if they lose and theoretically also keep it if they win?
However, adopting this mentality and refusing to pay out bets would leave them struggling to get a single visitor through their doors. Not only would it create a loss of custom, it would surely close down a business.
Casinos rely on customers having an enjoyable experience and making future return visits. Their bread and butter are loyal customers.
It is possible that the case could set a precedent. New gambling legislation to better protect customers is arguably needed, as a law, which is now more mainstream, stating that gambling venues have no legal requirement to pay winners has the potential to be exploited.
As things stand, consumers have little protection. Should a casino visitor complain that machines are fixed or the software isn’t being fair, there is no power for this to be investigated.