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Vicky Nolan

This Week in Plastic News...

17 April 2000

Are gambling debts unenforceable when gamblers lose their shirts while using their credit cards to bet online? That's the primary question behind a group of five lawsuits filed in New York and Alabama--all proposed as class actions--against VISA International, MasterCard International and issuing banks.

A recent decision by the Multi-District Litigation Panel, which coordinates complex litigation, resulted in the cases being consolidated before U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval, Jr. in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, another credit card case, this one involving a California resident battling Net betting losses on his American Express and Discover cards, is currently stuck in another court.

The credit card companies have had the case, Marino v. American Express, brought to federal court in the United States Northern District of New York. Plaintiff Fred Marino's attorney, Ira Rothken, has filed a motion to have the case remanded to a state court. To date, no decision has been made, even though a hearing was scheduled March 28, 2000.

Judges for both cases seem to be more interested in avoidance than making any decisions, unfortunately. The New Orleans case, however, could have far-reaching ramifications. If the federal court rules in the plaintiff's favor, that would leave the door open for a class action suit. In that case, every losing Net punter could potentially add their name to the list. After all, the one guarantee in gambling is that every bet could win or lose. The list could be pretty long.

W. Lewis Garrison Jr. (Birmingham, AL) and Barry Reed (Minneapolis, MN) represent the plaintiffs case before the New Orleans court. Garrison could not be reached for comment, while Reed did not return phone calls.

This Week in Plastic News... is republished from
Vicky Nolan
Vicky Nolan