What is Liability in Betting?

When you make a wager with someone, you are entering into a contract with them. This contract can be broken with either party, but it is considered more honorable to walk away than to break your word. In short, integrity is vital in any relationship, whether it’s business or personal, and the same goes for betting. It would be best to have a formal contract when entering into any type of wager, but it is not necessary. Instead, you can utilize the ‘implied-in-fact contract’ which states that, unless otherwise agreed, the law shall apply, and neither party shall be liable for the negligence of the other.

Why is Liability in Betting Important?

In most cases, it is considered good sportsmanship to lose as well as win. However, when you lose money because of bad sportsmanship, it is considered bad sportsmanship to walk away from the table unharmed. Bad sportsmanship also extends to intentionally misleading another person in order to cause financial setback.

In the eyes of the law, being a good loser is no different from being a bad winner. In fact, the law somewhat favors the winner, as they are typically considered more ‘upstanding’ members of the community. Therefore, it is usually in your best interest to try and make sure that your opponent suffers no financial loss unless you intentionally lose to them. For instance, if you bet on a horse that they have a better chance of winning than you do, but you know that they will not accept the challenge and intentionally lose in order to damage your finances, then they have broken a contract with you and therefore, are liable for any financial loss that you may suffer as a result of their intentional misconduct.

How Does the Law Protect Me?

The law protects me from losing money because of bad sportsmanship. In case you do lose because of the negligence of another party, the law provides that you can seek redress by suing them. In such a lawsuit, the judge will determine who is at fault, and you will be awarded money according to the ‘fault-finder-rule’. This rule states that the person who is at fault determines the amount of the award, and the ‘innocent’ party is indemnified against any financial loss or damage. Finally, the judge can order that the winner pay the fees and costs of the litigation.

Examples of Liability in Betting

Below, we will discuss a few situations where one party is deemed to be more at fault than the other, and therefore liable for the losses that they cause. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, but offers a few examples of situations where you could be held liable for the losses that you cause.

Multiple Collisions Injured While Gaming

In one of the worst cases of negligence we have ever seen at the casino, a group of high school students were chatting it up while playing a game of roulette. One student bet $40 on red, and when he sat down to take a break, five red jets screaming towards the sky obliterated his $40 and the rest of the group. The other students sued the casino for negligence, alleging that the pit bosses failed to provide proper warnings about the danger of multi-collision, and were therefore, liable for the injuries that they caused. In this case, the players alleged that they never would have placed such a large wager, or been so carelessly in the middle of such a large group of friends, if they had known that it was highly likely that they would be injured or killed as a result of the explosion (The Recorder, 2017).

Contractual Obligations

In another instance, while driving to work, a man in a hurry signs a contract with another man to bet on the World Cup. The contract stipulates that the man driving to work will pay $100 to the man driving to the game, and they both agree that if Germany wins, the driver who came from work will have to carry the other on their back the entire length of the journey. Unfortunately for the ‘hurry’ man, when Germany wins, his 100 bucks turns into nothing – the other man was carrying a bag of tools, and therefore was not at all happy to have been burdened with such weight while driving to work. In this case, both men had agreed that unless Germany wins, the other man would not be carrying the bag of tools, and the hurry man was therefore, deemed to be in breach of contract. They argued over who was at fault, and the judge ruled that since the two parties had agreed that it would not be fair for either one of them to carry all the weight, both were at fault. In this case, the two men decided to split the cost of a cab ride to work, and since the contract was signed on the way to the match, the judge ordered that each man pay half of the cab fare.

Illegal Gambling

In a recent case, a man entered a riverboat casino in Michigan and placed a bet on the Super Bowl. He was then approached by another man, who asked for his bet slip, and when he gave it to him, the second man snatched it from his hands and stuffed it in his jacket. The casino security guard, who knew what was going on, tackled the second man and restrained him while the first man retrieved his slip. The second man was arrested and charged with felony theft by a casino employee. In this case, the casino was not at fault, as they were not responsible for the actions of the second man. However, the second man is still liable for the damage that he did to the first man’s wallet, as he had stolen it, and therefore, had broken a contract with the first man, who at the time of the theft, was still in good standing (The Recorder, 2019).

Bad Sportsmanship

In a bad example of sportsmanship, a professional golfer loses a bet with a professional race car driver. In order to even the score, the golfer drives the ball 400 miles from the 17th hole to a disabled person’s house, because that is how far the race car driver was from the tee box. When they arrive at the house, the two men argue about whose fault the incident is, and since the ball bounced off the nose of the race car driver’s vehicle, he alleges that they should share the loss. The golfer disagrees, and the judge orders that the golfer pay the entire loss because he was the one with the dishonorable act (The Recorder, 2017).

In short, when you lose money at the casino, it is considered bad sportsmanship to leave without paying your debt. If the casino cannot agree to a settlement, they will eventually send you a bill for the outstanding amount. In such a case, it is considered good sportsmanship to walk away with your integrity intact.