Australian casinos do not like clients and former clients who owe them money. Punters er readers might remember a Mr Harry Kakavas aka 'King Of Hedges Avenue', who won big at Crown Casino, and lost bigger. Media Man and Gambling911 play Pink Panther and bring its responsible readership this special report...
Crown Casino plans to bankrupt ex casino high-roller Harry Kakavas, who failed to score victory in court last year. Kakavas, a self-proclaimed pathological gambler, was due to be issued with a bankruptcy notice late last month, after an application by Crown to the Federal Magistrates Court.
High Rollin' Harry was or is a real estate developer by trade, some insiders say "A poor man's Donald Trump", still quite an accomplishment.
At one point 'The King' was one of the world's most successful (or high profile) gamblers in the world, known well to casino tycoon's such as the late, great, Kerry Packer. KP is understood to have one made certain that Crown Casino powers that be, including son James, knew "our friend" Harry.
Mr Kakavas last year was unsuccessful in his bid to sue crown for his alleged losses of a whale whopping $35 million smack a roos.
The recent action comes after a Victorian court dismissed (ruled out) Mr K's multi-million-dollar court action and upheld the casino's $1m counter-claim for the repayment of funds advanced during his patronage to the 'World Of Entertainment', wear Harry appeared to 'Wear The Crown', before he lost it and more.
Mr Kakavas, 43, is appealing against the counter-claim decision.
In a recent appearance before the Supreme Court of Victoria's Court of Appeal, Mr Kakavas's legal counsel advised that his client (Mr K) did not in fact have the funds to meet the judgement debt and would be bankrupt in the absence of a successful appeal. You know, the cliche "loosing the shirt off his back".
His personal debts exceeded $50 million, which may be some kind of record if tested by Guinness (not the beer), with cash, cheques et al owed to multiple casinos and hotels worldwide, along with a swag of ex biz partners, family, friendlies, the Australian Taxation Office... the whole box and dice.
His once ultra successful company, Elite Property Investment Group, is in the grasp of a court-appointed liquidator, thanks to an application by the tax office, while a another casino owner, the Paradise Enterprises, the Bahamas connection, is also attempting to have Mr Kakavas close up shop.
Mr Kakavas hasn't been terrible easy to contact as of late. Speaking appearances are understood to mainly occur in or around court room premises. Mr K could not be contacted earlier this week when press came a calling. His solicitor from last year's Crown Limited, Andrew Joseph of firm Strongman & Crouch, advised Rupert Murdoch owned News Limited he was not representing him on the bankruptcy matter.
An application for get this mouthful "substituted service of bankruptcy notice" doesn't sound pretty), which is generally sought in cases where there are issues in serving a debtor personally, claims that bankruptcy documents were to be sent to Mr Kakavas, care of Mr Joseph's office, on 28th May. Both bankruptcy applications have yet to be "determined" (looked over, ruled on etc) by the court.
Mr Kakavas, was one of Australia's original high-rolling patrons, who also rated considerable on the worldwide unofficial whale ratings weigh in.
"He was the highest of this country's high rollers. And he spread his wings. His gambling took him from the Gold Coast not only to Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, but also to Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Macau and the Bahamas," spoke judge David Harper in his December 8 decision.
"Over a 16-month period he turned over $1.479 billion in Melbourne alone. He enjoyed some spectacular wins. In the end, however, he lost all he won, and more."
Problem Gambler Or Not? We Think We Know...
The Melbourne-born entrepreneur moved to Australia's Gold Coast in 2001 and cemented a name for himself buying and selling property on the ultra exclusive Hedges Avenue patch.
What not everyone knew was that he was also a "problem gambler" of whale like proportions who was self-excluded from many of the worlds casinos, including Packer's Crown in Melbourne, at various times. Circa 1995 saw Harry done for fraud... understood to be linked for his passion for baccarat, also a favorite for James Bond 007 (who has his '56 Aston Martin DB coming up for auction in Red October). Unlike most Bond flicks, Harry's casino dealings don't look to have a happy ending, but will he 'Die Another Day' or one day return to his former kingship ala 'Casino Royale', with or without cheese? ... and wine.
Mr Kakavas had claimed that Crown powers that be were aware of his gambling "disability" (or passion?) and had acted "unconscionably" in luring him ala "hook, line and sinker" (our words, not Harry's) to gamble. That's of course part of Harry's side of the story.
Justice Harper found that while Crown did seek to attract him as a customer... offering him use of its corporate jet at the time (Crown now has 2 or 3 we understand), and hosting him including during the Australian Open Tennis circa 2005, it did not in face exploit his "disability".
We ponder how "disability" played so heavily into the way the cards and diced turned sour for Harry. With thanks to our un met friend (thus far) Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia...
The World Health Organization defines Disability as follows: "Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Thus disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives."
An individual may also qualify as disabled if he/she has had an impairment in the past or is seen as disabled based on a personal or group standard or norm. Such impairments may include physical, sensory, and cognitive or developmental disabilities. Mental disorders (also known as psychiatric or psychosocial disability) and various types of chronic disease may also be considered qualifying disabilities.
A disability may occur during a person's lifetime or may be present from birth. A physical impairment is any disability which limits the physical function of limbs or fine or gross motor ability.
Crown Casino is said to be feeling "very able bodied, profitable and confident", according to a fly on the wall at Media Man's Australian office. Chinese whispers from MM's Macau pad are buzzing of the same message.
A Crown Casino spokesman declined to comment as the Harry K VS Crown Limited matter was still before the court.
*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911
*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a bakers dozen of sectors they cover.
*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited