Posts Tagged ‘blackjack lawsuit’

Mohegan Sun Drops Lawsuit Against Jerome Powers

Monday, August 1st, 2011

In a surprising move, the Mohegan Sun casino has withdrawn its lawsuit against Jerome Powers, a Florida millionaire accused of owing the casino more than $1.2 million. The casino did not comment on the reason for withdrawing the suit, saying only that “the matter is settled.”

The case dates back to May 2009, when Powers took out a $1.2 million loan from the Connecticut casino. The high-rolling blackjack player lost the money and wrote six checks to the casino to repay the loan. Before the casino could accept the money, though, payment on the first check was stopped. The other five were returned because the account was closed.

In November 2009, the Mohegan Sun casino sued Powers. They later won the case, with the court ordering Powers to repay the debt. Powers then appealed to a Connecticut appellate court, saying that he should not have to pay because the state has no jurisdiction over contracts made in a tribal casino. He also argued that the contract was illegal. The appellate court rejected his arguments and upheld the lower court’s ruling.

It seemed that the casino had the case in the bag, but now they have suddenly dropped the lawsuit. Last month, Powers also settled a dispute with the Trump Taj Mahal casino, where he allegedly failed to pay a $1 million debt, and a breach of contract dispute with the Bellagio casino. Jerome Powers is the co-chairman and CEO of Plum TV, owner of the magazine Plum Miami and founder of Ocean Drive magazine.

Blackjack Dealer Suing Casino Over Trauma

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

A 32-year-old Australian woman is suing her former employer, Casino Canberra, for negligence. According to the lawsuit, their negligence has caused her to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as the result of an incident with a customer.

The woman, who has not been identified, says that an altercation has left her “shattered” and suicidal. She now suffers from night terrors, where she dreams about someone entering her bedroom and attacking her with a knife.

According to the woman, it all started with an incident that took place in March 2008. On that day, the woman was working as a blackjack dealer when a man grabbed a handful of $100 chips. He then immediately fled the scene and escaped, with no security close enough to stop him.

Prior to employment with the casino, the woman had been diagnosed with depressive bipolar disorder. According to the woman, the robbery incident caused her to develop acute anxiety disorder. She said that she had needed further treatment to ensure that she did not develop post-traumatic stress syndrome.

According to her, though, they instead put her back to work in June 2008. The casino showed evidence that a doctor had deemed her fit to return to work. In June, she went to work inspecting the Pai Gow tables. Then on one day she was inspecting a pit that contained poker tables, pontoon and blackjack. There was an intoxicated man at the pontoon table who became aggressive. The woman asked him not to swear at her, at which point he allegedly threatened her. The man was then escorted from the casino.

According to the woman, the incident, so soon after the robbery, caused her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Two days after the incident, she was treated for the disorder. The woman says that her night terrors and suicidal thoughts are the result of the casino’s negligence. Under cross-examination, though, she admitted to recreationally using ecstasy, speed and marijuana. The defense alleges that her condition is related to illicit drug use, as evidenced by previous hospital records. The court case is continuing today.

Indiana Supreme Court to Hear Card Counting Case

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Remember Thomas Donovan? Last year we reported on his efforts to challenge casinos’ policy of banning card counters. In 2006, he was banned from the Grand Victoria casino in Indiana for counting cards, which is a fairly common practice for casinos. Even though counting cards isn’t illegal, the casinos really don’t like it. Donovan admits that he’s a card counter but says that the casino has no right to ban him for doing something that is legal.

Donovan then filed a lawsuit against the casino in a Marion County court. That court ruled in favor of the casino. Then in October of 2009, Donovan filed an appeal in the Indiana Court of Appeals, saying that his ban is unlawful. In November, the Court of Appeals upheld Donovan’s appeal, stating that the casino had no right to ban him for counting cards. The casino then responded, as you might expect, by appealing the appellate court’s decision. They filed an appeal with the Indiana Supreme Court, which is set to hear the case tomorrow.

This is an interesting case and its outcome will send reverberations across the blackjack community. Do casinos have the right to ban people for counting cards if they are not breaking the law? Both sides admittedly seem to have a good argument, so let’s look at both sides.

Donovan points out that counting cards is not illegal in the state of Indiana (which is true) and that neither the state nor that casino has any rules against counting cards while playing blackjack (which may be true; more on that later). In essence, he is arguing that the casino banned him because he was winning, which he says is not a lawful reason for the ban.

The casino points out that they are a privately-run business and therefore they have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. That is somewhat true.  I don’t know a whole lot about Indiana’s laws on the subject, but I do know about the federal laws on this matter. The Civil Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate against certain protected groups. Specifically, it guarantees “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

Clearly, card counters do not fall into any of those protected groups. Courts have generally ruled that a business refusing service is legal if they had a specific interest in refusing that service, but it is unlawful if it is random or arbitrary. For instance, courts have ruled that businesses can refuse service to people who are not in the proper attire, who are unruly or are intoxicated, for example, because banning them could be beneficial to the business. Someone who does not follow the dress code detracts from the atmosphere of the establishment, someone who is unruly can make other customers decide to leave, and intoxicated people can cause all sorts of problems. Therefore, in those examples, those bans are not arbitrary, because the business has a vested interest in refusing their service.

So the question seems to be whether or not the casino has a specific reason for wanting to refuse service to card counters. The answer seems to be yes, because card counters cost them more money than non-counters. But is the fact that a person is costing the business money a legal reason to refuse their service? Courts have ruled that buffet-style restaurants can refuse service to customers who eat too much or waste food. It seems that the casino’s ban on card counters could be an extension of that same principle. So in this way it seems like the law is on the side of the casino.

Or is it? There is another argument in play here and that is that casinos aren’t the same as other private businesses. They are heavily taxed, regulated and supervised by the state. Some argue that because of that, they should be treated more like government-run businesses, which have fewer rights regarding the ability to refuse service. However, though they are taxed and regulated by the government, the casinos in Indiana are not subsidized by the government. They give money to the government, like any other business, but do not take any. Still, because of the heavy state regulation, the courts could choose to see the casinos as only partially private businesses. If they are seen as a public enterprise, then the rules regarding rights to refuse service are different.

I don’t know which side of the argument the state Supreme Court will favor, but they are expected to make a decision later this week. Legal arguments aside, wouldn’t it be nice to use common sense? Blackjack is a game of skill, so if the casinos are willing to offer that game, shouldn’t they accept that some players will be more skilled than others?

And that brings me back to something else that could impact the entire blackjack community. Donovan says that the casino has no rules against counting cards, but what if they did? Putting aside the above “public enterprise” argument for a moment, casinos are private businesses that can make up their own rules, as long as those rules don’t conflict with any existing laws. If you enter a business you have to obey their rules or the business has every right to refuse service to you. Therfore, if the casinos simply came out and clearly stated that, though there is no law against it, they do not allow card counting, couldn’t they legally ban anyone who does it? It seems like it to me, but then again, I majored in psychology, not law.

Man Sues Harrah’s Casino Over Ban

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Card counting is in the news again. A blackjack player in Las Vegas is suing Harrah’s Entertainment over the company banning him from their hotels. The man, Steven Silverstein, stated in his suit that Nevada law does not allow Harrah’s to deny him access to their casinos.

Back in September, Silverstein was playing blackjack at Paris Las Vegas, which is owned by Harrah’s, and was told to cash out and leave the casino. He was also told by the casino manager that they did not want him to return to that casino or any of Harrah’s casinos. He said that if Silverstein did try to return to the casino, he would be arrested.

Banning players for counting cards is nothing new. Though card counting without an external device is not illegal, the casinos do not like it and if they catch you doing it, you will be asked to leave and may be banned from returning as well. Recently, blackjack card counters have been fighting back by challenging the legality of those bans. There is no consensus about who is in the right.

Card counters say that the casinos have no right to deny them access simply because they count cards, since it’s not illegal. Others say that since the casinos are private businesses, they have the right to ban anyone they want from their establishments.

The courts have been inconsistent in their rulings so far, such as in a similar case in Indiana. In that state, a man who was banned for counting cards sued the casino. The court in that case ruled in favor of the casino, upholding their right to ban customers. The player then appealed and the appellate court ruled in favor of the card counter. The casino then appealed and the case is set to be heard by the state Supreme Court.

It’s impossible to tell how that case, Silverstein’s case, or any other will turn out. What this tells me is what I’ve always said about card counting. It is not illegal and it is not cheating as long as you do it only using your mind and nothing external to help you. However, I will neither encourage nor discourage card counting. Though it isn’t cheating, getting caught will get you in a lot of trouble with casinos. Therefore, there is a high risk to card counting, one that you need to consider before deciding whether to do it. Also consider that simply by playing blackjack basic strategy, you can lower the house edge to 0.5%, which is incredibly low for a casino game already.