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Former Casino Canberra croupier awarded $185,000

A former croupier has successfully sued Casino Canberra after an altercation with a rowdy patron and an earlier robbery left her psychologically scarred.

Master David Harper this morning awarded the woman more than $185,000 in damages after she took action in the ACT Supreme Court, with his reasons to be published later today.

The plaintiff sued for negligence after the June 2008 altercation and the robbery three months earlier left her suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

She told the court the robbery left her suffering night terrors so acute she wanted to sleep with a knife under her pillow.

But lawyers for the casino raised concerns her current mental state might have been the result of pre-existing mental health problems or illicit drug use.

The former casual dealer and inspector argued her old bosses knew she was suffering acute anxiety after the robbery but still put her in an unsafe position on her return to work.


Her negligence claim stemmed from an incident in March 2008 when she was counting the blackjack float and a man snatched a handful of $100 chips.

At a hearing in June last year the former employee said the man ran from the scene with no security to stop him, although the casino's legal team suggested the man walked from the table.

The woman said the robbery left her suffering night terrors in which someone entered her bedroom and attacked her.

''So I thought in my head if I could actually set up my bedroom with the knife under my pillow, perhaps the knife might be there in my dream and I might be able to access it in my dream [for protection],'' she said at the hearing.

The woman, who was already suffering from depressive bipolar disorder, said she was diagnosed with an acute anxiety disorder which needed treatment to prevent it developing into post-traumatic stress disorder.

A subsequent doctor's report deemed her fit to return to work dealing or ''chipping'' on the Pai Gow tables.

She told the court she felt more comfortable with the casino's regular players of the Chinese gambling game than on the rowdier pontoon or low-bet blackjack tables.

But on returning to work in June she was rostered as an inspector in a pit containing blackjack, pontoon, and poker tables.

The court heard an intoxicated patron ''drinking like a fish'' at the pontoon table became aggressive when she asked him not to swear at the dealer.

She said at one stage he threatened to cross a rope separating the pair, although the defendant's counsel pointed out the comment wasn't noted in her original statement.

CCTV footage played in court showed the man being hauled out by three security guards.

The employee was admitted to Calvary Hospital's private mental health facility two days later with suicidal thoughts.