‘I want my money back’: COA says ‘no dice’

One could surmise that Italo M. Parise liked to gamble. He patronized the MotorCity Casino in Detroit for at least a seven-year period between 2002 and 2009.

It’s a sure bet that, like most casino patrons, he didn’t like what usually happens over the long run. He lost money. A lot of it. More than $600,000. These places aren’t in business just for their health, folks.

Unlike most casino patrons, he didn’t take it lying down. He sued.

In his complaint, he cited MCL 600.2939(1), which says, in so many words, a person who loses money while gambling can go to court and get it back from the winner.

So, where’s my check, Parise wanted to know. Ask the Court of Appeals, the trial judge said, after booting Parise out of court.

And faster than a stickman whisks away the dice at a craps table, the Court of Appeals affirmed.

The statute Parise relied upon is a general statute that applies to money or goods lost through gaming, said the COA.

The casino where Parise lost his dough is controlled by a much more specific statute, the COA explained, and the casino has two aces in the hole.

First ace: the statute legalizes casino gaming. Second ace: the statute provides that “[a]ny other law that is inconsistent with this act does not apply to casino gaming as provided for by this act.” MCL 432.203(3).

Letting a big loser at the casino get his money back is not consistent with a law that let him legally lose it in the first place.

The house always wins.

The case is Parise v. Detroit Entertainment d/b/a/ MotorCity Casino.


One thought on “‘I want my money back’: COA says ‘no dice’

  1. This case involves basic legal principles related to basic statutory interpretation, including the plain meaning canon and the statutory glossary rule. The trial court and the Court of Appeals ignored the statutory glossary rule, and effectively rewrote the Michigan Gaming Control Revenue Act (MGCRA) to conflate what activities constitute “gaming” beyond those enumerated at MCL 432.202(x). This flawed methodology was employed to avoid the meaning of a clear and unambiguous statute, MCL 600.2939(1), and to invoke the invalidation clause at MCL 432.203(3) to render MCL 600.2939(1) inoperable. The trial court rewrote MCL 600.2939(1), and MCL 432.202(x) to invoke the MGCRA invalidation clause at MCL 432.203(3). Both lower court analyses’ of the “Gaming Act” conspicuously avoid mention of the MGCRA’s statutory definition of “gaming” in their legal analyses. The Court of Appeals announces that the MGCRA resulted in the “legalization of gambling” despite the plain meaning of its actual words and definitions. Plaintiff’s cause of action under a clear and unambiguous statute is inconsistent, because it just is, with no scholarly explanation or reasoning. Defendant has been given unprecedented special treatment to insulate it from a plain and unambiguous statute and several fundamental defects in the “gaming act,” which the gambling proponents wrote, placed on the ballot, and the People of the State of Michigan voted into law. The Rule of Law governing equal and impartial application of statutory interpretation rules in Michigan has been called into question. “Empathy glasses” appear to be suitable for Casinos, but not for any other members of the citizenry or other businesses in this State.

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