Trials & Litigation
Once-Prominent Lawyer Sues Casinos for Gambling Addiction
Posted Mar 10, 2008 5:48 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A former lawyer and TV commentator has sued seven casinos for failing to stop her compulsive gambling that led to $1 million in losses and the end of her law practice.
Arelia Margarita Taveras once earned $500,000 a year, but she lost her New York practice and her law license for skimming $99,000 from the escrow accounts of four real-estate and divorce clients to finance her gambling habit, report the Associated Press and the New York Post. Criminal charges are still pending. At one time she represented victims of a 2001 New York airline crash that killed 265 people.
Taveras is seeking $20 million from six casinos in Atlantic City and one in Las Vegas that gave her high-roller treatment, offering her limousine rides and allowing her to bring her dog inside in her purse. She claims she would stay at the tables for days without sleeping and eating, using disposable wipes to brush her teeth.
"They knew I was going for days without eating or sleeping,” she told AP. “They had a duty of care to me."
In one five-day period in June 2005, casino staffers brought her glasses of orange juice and Snickers bars while she stayed at the tables until the point of exhaustion. A dealer finally told her to go home, says the suit, filed in New Jersey federal court. Taveras now works as a call center operator in Minnesota.
Taveras says gambling wasn’t even fun. "It creeps up on you, the impulse. It's a sickness," she told AP. It’s "worse than crack because it's mental."