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Gambling Debt Bankruptcy

Discharge Debt

Would you like a bankruptcy attorney who is tough enough and good enough to take on a billion dollar corporation in your bankruptcy defense? If so, read on. Attorney Bruce Weiner helped to discharge debt for a client in 2001.

$200,000 gambling debt bankruptcy discharge, attorneys awarded $160,000 for casino’s willful stay violation

A debtor’s obligation to repay $200,000 in markers owed to Caesars Palace was not excepted from discharge under Section 523(a)(2)(A). Making matters worse for the casino, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower courts that the referral of the markers to the bad check collections unit of the Las Vegas District Attorney’s Office after the debtor filed for bankruptcy was a willful violation of the automatic stay.

The client, a Russian immigrant, began gambling in 1994. He received, used and repaid credit lines from several casinos using funds from his construction company, a business owned by his wife. He told the casinos to send all correspondence regarding his gambling debts to his office at the construction company, where he was the general manager.

In 1995 the client had a 100,000 credit line from Caesars Boardwalk Regency in Atlantic City, N.J., which referred him to its sister casino, Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas. Caesars Palace flew the client to Las Vegas, where he submitted a credit application and signed 12 markers- negotiable instruments for gambling debts- totaling $202, 264. Then, over the next four days, he lost it all.

In September 1995, despite his warning not to do so, Caesars Palace sent a collection notice to his house. His wife read it, cut off his access to the company’s funds, threw him out of the house and filed for divorce. Without being able to use the company’s money to pay his gambling debts, he was only to repay about $11,000 before filing for bankruptcy. By that time, Caesars Palace had obtained a default judgment against him.

Gambling debt was not the result of fraud

Caesars Palace said the debtor acquired his credit line through fraud. The casino conceded that the debtor intended to pay his debt when he signed the markers, but misrepresented the source of the money to be used for re-payment. The bankruptcy court found no evidence of fraud and ruled against the casino. The court also awarded the debtor attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to Section 523(d) and as sanctions pursuant to Rule 9011. According to the bankruptcy court, a reasonable investigation would have revealed that there was no fraud.

The District Court affirmed the bankruptcy court on the issue of discharge ability, but reversed on the award of fees and costs because the case presented the novel issue of whether intent to pay based in misappropriated funds precluded discharge.

The 2nd Circuit agreed with the District Court.

According to Caesars Palace, he planned to repay his gambling debts by stealing money from his wife’s company. But that wasn’t the way the court saw it. He was the general manager and had access to the company’s accounts. He had taken bonuses from the accounts in the past to supplement his meager income without objection from his wife. These withdrawals were not hidden but were treated as taxable income. There was no indication that he was ever accused of stealing the money.

“The 2nd Circuit’s decision is important because it requires that a debtor actually intend to defraud a creditor prior to the commencement of a transaction. Moreover, the 2nd Circuit requires a false material representation and it is unwilling to impute a false representation to a debtor,” said the debtor’s counsel.

If you are in need of bankruptcy counsel or to discharge debt, contact Bruce Weiner of Rosenberg, Musso & Weiner LLP, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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