California Man Sues MGM Mirage
A California businessman who claims that Las Vegas casinos preyed on his gambling addiction is attempting to sue MGM-Mirage properties after losing millions of dollars over a nine-year period. Shibley Horaney, of Long Beach, Calif., claims that beginning as early as 1995, representatives from the MGM Grand and The Mirage aggressively solicited him to open lines of credit at the casinos, which prompted him to lose more than $5 million. He also is arguing that because he is a California resident and MGM-Mirage representatives repeatedly hounded him in his home state, he should be covered by a California law that says it will not "lend its process to the collection of gambling debts." Horaney's complaint was filed in federal court after the MGM Mirage threatened to sue him for failing to pay back $475,000 loaned to him during trips to the Strip. Horaney could not be reached for comment. His attorney, Allen Hyman, did not return phone messages. Last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley granted the MGM-Mirage's motion to sanction Horaney for two deposition hearings he missed in March. Horaney claims the casinos "collect data on residents of California, particularly those susceptible to gambling addiction, (and) attempt to induce those" individuals to visit their Las Vegas properties.
The company contacted him "upwards of 20 to 30 times a year through phone communications and written communications," according to the complaint. They offered to send their corporate jet for Horaney and provide a hotel room at no cost.
MGM-Mirage officials denied the allegations included in the complaint.
"We did not employ any marketing efforts that we haven't used with other guests in the past during the ordinary course of our business," said Yvette Monet, a spokeswoman for the company.
"Further, issues related to problem gambling have been raised as a defense by plaintiffs in the past, and in every case the courts have rejected the argument that a guest is not obligated to pay his or her debt in full."
The case is scheduled for a jury trial, one that MGM-Mirage officials are confident they ultimately will win.
"The reality remains that Mr. Horaney owes an outstanding debt to our company, and we intend to continue to pursue all legal avenues to collect the full amount that is owed to us," Monet said.
Horaney's complaint says he suffers from "gambling addictions recognized by the American Psychiatric Association."