Gino Accettola, a 52-year-old man with ties to Detroit’s “Tocco crew” Mafia, gambled away over $6 million of investors’ money that was supposed to be used towards construction projects. The investors then sued the casino saying they should be held responsible for the loss.
According to official court papers, the swindled investors loaned a large amount of money to Mr. Accettola. This money was supposed to be invested in a variety of construction projects in Michigan and Florida.
Gino Accettola, a frequent gambler at the MGM Grand in Detroit, did not use the money for its intended purpose. Instead, he played blackjack at the Casino and lost all the investors’ money.
Records of Accelottas Previous Crimes
Gino Accelotta served time in federal prison on charges of fraud during the ‘90s. In 2013, he then committed another con job for which he only got a suspended sentence of 10 months by the Macomb County Circuit Court. He was also previously sentenced to at least 7 years in prison on theft charges where he conned a credit card company into paying him over $150,000 through his Miami Tan outlets of which he owned 5 in Michigan. He was also in Federal prison in the 1990s for fraud and got away with a state court suspended sentence in 2013 for another con job.
The Swindled Investors’ Argument
The investors argued that the casino should have been more thorough before accepting bets and even should have gone as far as performing a background check. If the casino had done their due diligence, they would have found that Accettola is unemployed and therefore has no source of income to accumulate such a large sum of money.
A background check would have also shed light on the fact that Accettola had a long criminal record. He has spent a good amount of time in prison for identity theft, larceny and many other various charges as confirmed by the judge’s opinion, which showed that he was also involved in criminal activities like larceny and identity theft.
The investors’ lawyer, Mr. Corey Silverstein also stated that Accettola was a very bad gambler. It was then noted by the judges that no casino is accountable to judge the skill level of a gambler before their bets are accepted.
The Ruling of the Appeals Court
The appeals court listened to the arguments put forth by the plaintiffs but rejected all of them. Accettola however, is currently serving a 7 to 30-year prison sentence, handed down in 2018 for a separate fraud case.
The judges ruled the casino is not liable for the investors’ money that Accettola gambled away. The investors’ attorney was furious saying that “This guy was treated like royalty with all my clients’ stolen money.”
The judges also wrote in their ruling that the plaintiffs were adamant that Accettola did not have any legal employment or source of lucrative funding so the money he used for gambling wasn’t white money.
The judges also stated that the casino practiced its usual business guidelines and they had no idea that Accettola acquired the money through fraudulent means. They did agree that the casino wanted him to play blackjack, particularly after knowing what a terrible gambler he was.
This emphasizes the fact that casinos are not responsible for the knowledge level of a gambler. They are supposed to accept all bets unless they have a solid reason not to. If this practice was introduced, then casinos would only have to accept bets from people who have at a minimum a basic skill set of gambling which would severely restrict who could gamble at a casino. This would essentially defeat the whole purpose of having a casino in the first place and no one should be excluded based on their gambling skill and experience level. The liability does not fall on the casino as they did not do anything wrong and were abiding by their standard business practices.
Gino Accettola himself is responsible for the crime he committed to defrauding the investors and then swindling their money. Had the ruling been any different, then it would have set a precedent for future cases of casinos being liable for the crimes of gamblers. Such a huge burden cannot be placed on casinos as it would no doubt run them out of business.
The casino is not liable to reimburse the losses faced by the investors. The judges stated in their ruling that “There is no evidence that [the] defendant had, or should have had, knowledge of Accettola’s financial situation at the time he gambled, or should have known the alleged source of the funds with which he gambled…. We conclude that [the] plaintiffs have failed to show that [the] defendant’s casino was not acting in good faith when it acted in accordance with its normal course of business as a casino.”
Previous MGM Grand Detroit Cases
In 2018, a teacher gambled away $31,000 worth of money belonging to a Macomb Township School. The teacher was on probation after pleading no contest to the embezzlement of money acquired by the school through student activities.
In August 2019 the MGM was part of a few legal problems. They argued that the state government should not tax uncollected player gaming debts.
A Dakota High School former Spanish Teacher also owes $30,000 to the school district of Chippewa Valley after gambling and losing school funds at the MGM Grand.
The case of Gino Accettola is not the first or last of its kind. Many people have previously sued casinos for such incidents but the burden falls on the person who has committed the crime with full knowledge, not on the casinos who don’t know (and probably don’t care) where people acquire their money.