Could Casinos Be Target Of Gaming Addiction Lawsuits?

First it was the tobacco industry. Now casinos could be the next target of a class action lawsuit.

"Common Cause" is a national group that promotes government accountability. The group says it's time for casinos to pay for making money off gambling addicts, and they want lawyers around the nation to seek legal action.

For the past 10 years, casinos have brought millions of dollars into Mississippi. That's why the threat against casinos has Gaming Association Director Andy Bourland a little bothered.

"You would see literally tens of properties close. You would see thousands of jobs lost," Bourland said.

But Bourland believes a lawsuit filed similar to the major tobacco settlement would fail.

"We are doing a great deal, we think, to help protect individuals who have compulsive gambling problems."

Bourland says employees are trained to spot gambling addicts. Once they target an individual, he says, they try to offer help. Bourland also says the gaming association pays, in part, for a telephone hotline set up to assist compulsive gamblers.

Trial lawyer Shane Langston agrees programs for addicts are in place. That's why he doesn't see the need for a class action lawsuit.

"I don't see this as a situation where you're going to see lawyers going in and asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in fees," Langston said. "I doubt if you'll see, for example, the state of Mississippi suing the casino industry. It's just not going to happen."

Langston says individual casinos should be held accountable if they fuel a gambler's addiction. He says that's why casinos should continue to make sure their customers play it safe.