I know we’ve all thought it after someone hits a runner-runner draw on us, but none of us (I assume) have never gone as far as a high stakes gambler did two months ago at Genting Casino Bournemouth in southern England. After losing £400,000, 59-year-old Amir Abol Abolghassem, brought a five-liter container of gasoline to the casino and threatened to burn the place to the ground. Getting our Aces cracked is bad, but not inferno bad.
Abolghassem was a regular at Genting, so nobody was particularly suspicious when he toted something in a bag, saying it was a gift for an employee. He then went up to the balcony area of the venue, threw a coffee table down to the lower level, and started shouting. Abolghassem warned people that was going to “burn it down” and that they should get out.
According to prosecutor Tom Evans, Abolghassem told the casino manager that “you have five minutes to get everyone out.”
He continued lamenting his situation, saying, “his life was done” and that “places like this needed to be burned down.” Abolghassem was holding a lighter the entire time, clearly in a position to make good on his promise. He then got so desperate that he held a knife to his own neck. Fortunately, after a few minutes, a police constable talked him down and placed him in custody. For his part, Abolghassem apologized.
In court, barrister Victoria Hill, in defending Abolghassem, said it was his problem gambling that was one of the roots of what he did:
It is the defendant’s gambling addiction, the death of his mother and sister, his health problems, his loss of employment and the effect of lockdown that led to the very desperate state that he was in on the day that he committed the offences.
It would appear that these offences were carried out with a misguided attempt to show others that that particular casino was not a good place to visit.
He didn’t want others to end up in the sorry state that he was.
According to Hill, Abolghassem has had a gambling addiction for a long time and was in the hospital two weeks before the incident for a heart issue.
On Friday, Recorder (Judge) Oba Nsugbe QC sentenced Abolghassem to 20 months in prison, but suspended the sentence two years. He also issued a restraining order, barring Abolghassem from gambling venues in the United Kingdom for ten years.
While Nsugbe said what Abolghassem did was very serious and could have ended up to be quite dangerous, he was fairly lenient because Abolghassem did appear to show genuine remorse, readily /admitted what he did, had people speak up on his behalf, and has solid prospects for rehabilitation.