Sunday September 1,2012 : GOLDEN NUGGET CASINO FOLDS IN RE-SHUFFLE ROW
Atlantic City judge rules that casino cannot invalidate players winnings and must let them cash their chips
The Golden Nugget land casino has lost the first round and the match in its fight against players who allegedly took advantage of cards that had not been reshuffled by the manufacturer or, apparently, its own staff.
And just hours after Atlantic City Judge James Isman ordered that players must be allowed to cash chips frozen by the house, the casino owner folded and agreed to make the payments.
At the end of April this year 41 hands of a mini-baccarat game allowed $10 bettors to beat the house out of $1.5 million, allegedly due to cards that had not been re-shuffled by the manufacturer.
However, subsequent reports indicated that casino staff may also have been negligent in not complying with regulatory requirements regarding re-shuffling.
A Golden Nugget legal representative told the court: “There was a mistake made at the Gemaco facility, which we freely admitted. This was a one-time, isolated mistake, but it occurred. It’s supposed to be a game of chance. It changed from a game of chance to a windfall for the individual players. What we have now is individual players coming to the court asking for a free payday based on a mistake that took place.”
Lawyers claimed the pattern of cards became apparent to players, who had been wagering $10 a hand and suddenly upped their bets to $5,000 a hand. The cards did not come out of the chute in numerical order, such as 2-3-4-5. Rather, they came out in a predetermined pattern that the manufacturer lists as a proprietary secret, the attorneys said.
However, Associated Press reports that Tilman Fertitta, the owner of the Golden Nugget, decided to pay the winners to make the whole thing go away.
“Without question, the mini-baccarat game that took place on April 30, 2012, allowed $10 bettors to realize a gambler’s dream and enabled them to beat the house out of $1.5 million,” Fertitta told the news agency.
“Even though we can appeal the court’s ruling and take full advantage of the appellate process and legal system, and tie the matter up in litigation for a number of years, the Golden Nugget is a people business, and is prepared to allow the gamblers – most of whom continue to gamble at Golden Nugget – to realize the gambler’s dream of beating the house.”
The casino will additionally let gamblers keep more than a half-million dollars already paid to them from the same disputed games, with the whole offer conditional on all sides halting litigation.
The judge was asked to support the casino's action in barring the involved players from cashing in almost a million dollars’ worth of chips won in the game, and to order the return of more than $500,000 in winnings already paid out to some of the winners who had cashed their chips.
Judge Isman denied both requests and agreed that the gamblers did nothing wrong. Even though they discerned a pattern, players remained at risk as there was no telling when the predictable run would cease, he said.
Fertitta said the proper course for Golden Nugget to recoup its losses was through litigation with the card manufacturer.
“We have a company we can go back against that has admitted fault,” he said. “But that’s our problem.”