Posts Tagged ‘virtual blackjack’

Players Suing Over Blackjack Losses

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Some people are just sore losers. Unidentified players at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, Florida are suing in an attempt to recoup their losses. The players lost money while playing blackjack but now are basically asking the court to give them a refund.

The Hard Rock Casino is owned by the Seminole tribe and thus is part of sovereign Seminole territory. For that reason, the tribe is not being sued. Federal law does not permit lawsuits against Native American tribes unless the tribe consents to be a party in the proceedings. For that reason, the players, who are being represented by attorney Mike Trentalange, are suing the companies that provide the blackjack tables to the casino. Hey, they have to sue someone, right?

The basis of the suit is this: Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a deal last year that legalized blackjack and other table games in exchange for the state receiving a cut of the profits. The state House later rejected the deal and another subsequent deal made by Crist. Trentalange argues that because there is no deal in place, the blackjack tables at the casino are illegal. If the games are illegal then the casino’s winnings are the result of illegal gambling and his clients have a right to have their money refunded.

This isn’t the first time someone has sued a casino in an attempt to recoup their losses. Previously I wrote about a man who is suing a casino for allegedly loaning him money while he was intoxicated, with the basis of the suit being that the contract of the loan is null and void because the player did not have the mental capacity to enter into an agreement with the casino.

In this case, the contention is that if the blackjack tables are illegal then the casino taking the players’ money is no different than a street hustler conning them out of cash. That argument is certainly not a strong one, but it also has another problem: According to the Seminole tribe, their blackjack tables are perfectly legal.

Legal motions that have attempted to put a stop to blackjack at the Seminole’s casinos have been denied by the courts. The tribe also states that since the game of blackjack was included in the Federal Register in 2008, that makes the tables legal. In addition, the tribe has recently pointed out that pari-mutuels in the state are permitted by the state to hold virtual blackjack games. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act states that the tribes are permitted to offer any game that is allowed within the state in which their territory resides.

And even if it is ruled that the blackjack games are illegal the case seems shaky because it’s not the Seminole tribe or the casino that is being sued. Instead, they’re suing third parties that did nothing more than provide the games for the casino.

Oh, and one more thing: According to the Seminole tribe, the court set to hear this case does not have the legal authority to determine whether the blackjack games are illegal. They say that only the federal government has that authority. This should definitely be an interesting court case (if it ever goes that far).

How Cards Are Dealt in Blackjack

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Blackjack is a game of minor variations. Sometimes the dealer hits a soft 17 while other times they stand. Some tables let you double again after splitting while others don’t. Some allow you to resplit while others don’t. There are variations in just about every phase of the game, just to make sure you never think you know everything about blackjack.

One of the variations that is most noticeable is how the cards are dealt. Sometimes, the dealer holds the decks in his hands and shuffles by hand, while at other times a shoe is used. Virtual blackjack and online blackjack games use a random number generator to determine what cards you receive instead of having a dealer.

In hand-held blackjack, the dealer holds and shuffles the cards by hand. These games usually only use one or two decks. The fewer decks there are, the more it favors the players, especially any players who count cards. Therefore, Las Vegas casinos usually don’t have hand-held games.

In shoe games, the dealer uses a rectangular holder called a shoe. The shoe sits on the table and automatically gives the next card to the dealer when the dealer presses a button. Some shoes automatically shuffle the cards, while at other times the dealer uses a separate shuffling machine and then places the pre-shuffled cards in the shoe. Shoe games use 4 to 8 decks, usually an even number. Because of the larger number of decks, shoe games are more difficult for card counting.

Some casinos and pari-mutuels offer virtual blackjack, which is a game where the players sit in front of a video screen and are “dealt” cards electronically by a dealer. Instead of being shuffled, these cards are selected by a computer program called a random number generator. The same process is used for online blackjack. With both virtual blackjack and online blackjack, it is impossible for you to count cards, because the random  number generator has the same effect as shuffling the deck after each card is dealt.

Is Virtual Blackjack Blackjack?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Blackjack is a pretty basic card game that comes in many forms. The earliest and most obvious form of blackjack is played at a table in a brick and mortar casino. The dealer gives you cards and you wager, win and lose chips on each hand. Some casinos have gone to chipless electronic blackjack tables, where you are still dealt physical cards but instead of using chips, you place bets on a touch screen and have money automatically credited to or subtracted from your account. Online blackjack is offered at web-based casinos, where everything is done on the computer and instead of cards being shuffled, the outcome is controlled by a random number generator. You can also play mobile blackjack on your cell phone.

And then there’s virtual blackjack, which is causing a lot of controversy in the state of Florida. In the Sunshine State, the Seminole tribe wants to operate blackjack tables at their casinos and are already doing so. An agreement with the state Congress has been scrapped, which some say makes their blackjack tables illegal. Some lawmakers in the state want those tables shut down.

In response, the Seminole tribe has said that pari-mutuels in the state are offering virtual blackjack. According to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, Indian tribes have the right to run any game in their casinos that is allowed in the state in which their casinos reside. Therefore, if Florida’s government allows the pari-mutuels to offer blackjack, then they must let the Seminole do the same.

The problem is that those pari-mutuels claim that their “virtual blackjack” games aren’t really blackjack. Those virtual blackjack games have been inspected and licensed by the government, so the only way the Seminole could be prevented from having blackjack is if the courts buy the “this isn’t really blackjack” argument.

According to the pari-mutuels, the games are not really blackjack because instead of the outcome being determined by a shuffling of cards, it is controlled by a random number generator. For that reason, according to them, they are more like slots. However, they are wrong. First of all, online blackjack also uses a random number generator.

Secondly, the method by which the game is randomized makes no difference. Whether it’s by a computer program, a dealer shuffling by hand, or an automatic shuffling machine, you get the same outcome: cards randomly dealt to you. Unlike slots, whether you win or lose isn’t based solely on that outcome. You have to make decisions. You can decide to hit, stand, double, split and more and those decisions, combined with the random outcome of the cards you are dealt, determine whether you win or lose. With slot machines, you win or lose based on the random spinning of the reels. That is not the same at all.

So what do you think? Is it still blackjack even if it’s a computer program that determines what cards you are dealt?

Seminole Tribe Says Blackjack Legal

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

There has been an ongoing battle between the Seminole tribe and the government over blackjack. The government has said that the tribe needs to end the blackjack operations in their casino. The Seminole tribe, never one to back down to the government, has been dragging their feet. Now, they have a new strategy, which is to point out blackjack operations that the state government is letting exist.

According to the Seminoles, pari-mutuel facilities are currently operating virtual blackjack games, where players sit around a television screen and gamble using electronic cards and chips. Which cards are dealt is determined by a random number generator, just like with online blackjack games.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is a federal law passed in 1988 that, among other things, states that Indian tribes have the right to run any game in their casino that is allowed in the state in which their reservation is located. Therefore, if the state of Florida allows the pari-mutuel facilities to operate virtual blackjack games, it would be legal for the Seminole tribe to offer live table-and-dealer games.

At the tribe’s request, federal gambling regulators with the National Indian Gaming Commission visited Broward County in south Florida yesterday to inspect the virtual blackjack machines in question. One such machine is at Mardi Gras Gaming in Hallandale Beach, where the president, Dan Adkins, says that the game is much different from blackjack and is more similar to slots.

This is only the latest complication in the Seminole’s attempt to run a legal blackjack operation in their casinos. Back in 2007, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a deal with the tribe that legalized their blackjack tables. The state House later voided the deal, which allows the tribe to offer blackjack and gives the state a cut of the revenue, saying that Crist didn’t have the authority to make it. Today a reworked deal to the same effect is expected to be rejected by the House. In the meantime, some members of the House have called for the government to shut down the blackjack tables in the Seminole’s casinos, stating that they are illegal.