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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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House Always Wins, Even at Off-Strip Golf Course

MANHATTAN (CN) — Hit a hole-in-one, get $1 million. A Brooklyn man who plunked down $80 in entrance fees says that only after making the miracle shot did Caesars Palace reveal lightning would have to strike twice for the big-ticket payout.

Taking the Las Vegas casino to Manhattan Supreme Court, John Aretakis explains pro se that his buddy hit the million-dollar hole-in-one at the Rio Secco Golf Club on Jan. 31, 2016.

Aretakis had been staying at Caesars on a business trip and notes that the casino runs Rio Secco.

In addition to its hole-in-one challenge, according to the Oct. 6 complaint, the Henderson, Nevada, course is also known for "having exotic dancers or strippers as caddies at the club."

Aretakis says Rio Secco sicced a young woman on his foursome at the seventh hole to have them pony up $20 each for the challenge.

She told them "going home after winning $1 million in Las Vegas would be awesome," according to the complaint.

Aretakis says he took the bait and paid $80 for him and the three others in his golfing party to take a swing at the par-3 hole, 165 yards away.

Adam Neary, one of the golfers in the party, had advised Aretakis in advance that they would share the prize money if he made the shot, according to the complaint.

Though Aretakis himself didn't even make the green, Neary hit the hole-in-one.

A celebration broke out when the Rio Secco worker who took their $80 confirmed the shot — after first warning Aretakis that the prize would be invalidated if he stepped into the green before her, the complaint says.

Then the story changed.

"You and your friend do not get the million dollars," the young woman said, according to the complaint. "You only win an all-expense paid trip back to Las Vegas to compete in a competition at Rio Secco to try to win the $1 million."

Turns out, golfers have to make two holes-in-one to win the cash.

"This was a very different version that she told the plaintiff at the tee," the 16-page complaint says.

Aretakis alleges that the bait-and-switch scam has generated $20,000 over several years.

When the golfers reached the next hole, a female bartender at the drink cart confirmed their suspicions.

"It's kind of a bait and switch as most golfers are led to think that a hole-in-one gets you the million dollars," she said, according to the complaint.

Adding insult to injury, when they finished the course, Rio Secco allegedly gave the men a useless, giant check for $1 million.

Aretakis says he checked the course's website when he got home. Sure enough, it featured fine print that says sinking a hole-in-one winner really only gets the golfer a $500 credit at the gift shop and an all-expenses-paid return trip, plus-one, for the next challenge in November.

But Neary allegedly got a call in late March, saying the event would be moved to June.

A few weeks later, the course called again and explained that it was canceling the all-expense-paid return; Caesars Palace was in bankruptcy.

Yet when Aretakis went back to golf at Rio Secco on April 26, according to the complaint, he saw the same marketing for the hole-in-one-challenge.

Apparently having never heard the fool-me-once adage, the complaint says Aretakis took another $20 stab at the prize.

For Aretakis, "this is an example of actual and/or secondary fraud."

"Defendants presently continue to perpetuate a deception and fraud on the public and patrons of Rio Secco," the complaint states.

Aretakis wants punitive damages, alleging fraud, breach of contract and false representation. He says the court should also enjoin the contest.

Spokesmen for Caesars Entertainment have not returned phone calls or emails seeking comment Thursday.

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