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Badbeat Poker Jackpot Litigators lose court case
4/20/10 - Two land poker players who took five Los Angeles area casinos to court on bad beat jackpot complaints left empty handed after a judge ruled that state law prohibited them from trying to recover gambling losses in the courts.
The court heard that LA casinos typically collect $1 from every pot to pay "bad-beat jackpots" to players who lose despite holding exceptionally strong hands.
But poker players Dennis Chae and Jeff Kim contended that the casinos were not following state law that required the games to be offered as no-purchase-necessary, the Los Angeles Times revealed, reporting on the case. They sued the Bicycle, Commerce, Hustler, Hollywood Park and Hawaiian Gardens casinos, appearing before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emile H. Elias, who ruled that state law prohibited the players from trying to recover gambling losses in the courts.
"Plaintiffs chose to play the games despite the knowledge that they would be charged" the $1 jackpot fee, the judge wrote.
The LA Times notes that the state of California has warned casinos that the badbeat jackpots are illegal lotteries if a fee is required to win. Consequently, the casinos advertise that there is no purchase necessary to compete for the jackpots and have said they will deal jackpot games without a fee if requested. They are rarely asked to do so, casino officials said.
Chae and Kim had contended in their lawsuit that the five casinos would not allow them to compete for the jackpots unless they played at tables that collected the $1-per-hand fees. Their lawsuit accused the casinos of false advertising.
Lawyers for the two poker players estimated that the casinos make hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits each year by collecting administrative fees of 15 percent to 25 percent from the jackpot pools. Their lawsuit sought class-action status, which would have allowed thousands of players to become plaintiffs. The suit also sought monetary damages and an injunction ending the jackpots.
The LA Times reports that jackpot poker was first deemed an illegal lottery in a 1989 attorney general opinion that was later upheld by a California state appeals court. Casinos have advertised the jackpots as no-purchase-necessary for about 15 years as a consequence.
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