Golden Nugget Atlantic City Casino sues card maker after shuffling snafu

This one’s interesting – the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City is suing a company that manufacturers playing cards after an incident that left them more than 1.5 million in the hole.  It all started back in April at a baccarat table at which the same winning sequence of cards was dealt 41 times in a row.  Reportedly, the players sitting at the table quickly caught on and profited handsomely.  At one point, one player was playing $5,000 a hand. 14 players in total profited nearly 1.5 million dollars in winning over the course of an hour or so.  Initially, the casino believed that the players had been cheating, but were unable to prove how.

Lawsuits all around

Then came an investigation and a lawsuit against Gemaco, Inc., the card manufacturer, on behalf of the casino.  In the suit, Golden Nugget contends that the cards had not been properly shuffled before they were packaged.  Now you, like me, might be thinking, that casinos are supposed to shuffle their own decks.  I thought that was always the case, however, reportedly, this manufacturer claims that their cards come preshuffled, and that fact caused the casino to not shuffle the cards.  I’m interested to see how that issue plays out in the course of the suit.  Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the cards are properly shuffled – the manufacturer who claims that they are or the casino who uses the cards in their licensed gambling tables?

The casino also then filed suit to try to get back and block the payouts to the players at the table in question.  The 14 players retained a lawyer, who is defending them against casino’s suit.  In a statement, the player’s lawyer said:

The Golden Nugget appealed to gamblers to come in and play games licensed and sanctioned by the state of New Jersey. My clients did exactly that, and then were denied their winnings. There is absolutely no law in New Jersey that would permit the Golden Nugget to declare the game illegal because it failed to provide shuffled cards.

The casino states that state gambling laws require all casino games to offer fair odds to both the house and player.  Their suit contends that the players and casino became aware at some point (after winning over and over again and increasing their betting) that the game had become unfair.  However, it could be argued that the burden of making the game fair ultimately lies with the casino, and that because they failed to do so, and the players were under the supervision of the casino’s staff and not observed or found to be actively cheating, the players should not be held responsible for the casino’s fault.   The suit even quotes the casino as stating:

From the beginning to the end of play, however, plaintiff (the casino) could not identify any particular act of those players that actually constituted swindling and cheating

I find it curious that the casino is suing both the players and the card manufacturer (the casino already paid out about $559k in winnings to nine players.  There is still about $978k that has yet to be cashed in by the other players).  It’s curious that they have sued the card manufacturer because it shows that they think they think the card manufacturer, not the players, are at fault.  The outcome could leave the casino holding the bag or either the players or card manufacturer on the hook for the casino’s losses.

In another turn of events, three of the players from the Baccarat table have sued the Golden Nugget claiming they were discriminated against for being Chinese following the event.  One player contends that casino employees stormed his hotel room at the casino, and rushed him to another room where he was pinned against a wall and interrogated, searched, and held against his will regarding the incident.  He claims he was held against his will without food, water, or an interpreter for over eight hours.

This happens more often than you would think

According to a an article by the Associated Press, there have been several other instances of unshuffled cards causing problems for Atlantic City casinos.  In December, the Trump Taj Mahal also used an unshuffled deck in a game of baccarat.  The fallout from that event included a $90,000 fine against the casino and nine people losing their jobs.

I will keep you updated on how this one plays out.

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