Case of unshuffled cards could turn into a nightmare for US land casino
New Jersey's Golden Nugget Casino is in the midst of a wave of high profile mainstream media coverage as it attempts to recover from players $1.5 million that it claims was illegally won due to unshuffled cards.
But the negative publicity and reputational damage may outweigh any potential monetary gain from the case, and there are a number of unanswered questions surrounding the standard security procedures that should have been deployed by the casino, and which allegedly would have protected it.
Golden Nugget management is pursuing 14 gamblers who it claims took advantage of unshuffled cards on a mini-baccarat table. The players made 41 winning bets in a row when the cards at the table began coming out in sequence, the New York Post reported.
A casino spokeswoman said the gamblers were initially suspected of cheating, but officials soon discovered the cards — which had been ordered as pre-shuffled from Missouri manufacturer Gemaco Inc. — "were not shuffled at all."
"The gamblers unlawfully took advantage of the Golden Nugget when they caught on to the pattern and increased their bets from as little as $10 to $5,000," the casino said in a statement.
At least three of the players have launched counter suits, and there have been disturbing reports that one player was confined to his room for 8 hours by casino security – if true that could have some very serious repercussions.
There is also the issue of probability – the odds of such a winning run even with unshuffled decks.
Adding to the intrigue surrounding the affair, reports from former casino managers and pit bosses surfaced this week, outlining the extensive precautions that casinos are supposed to take by law to protect themselves and customers in cases like this.  These include:
* Even in the case of a pack of pre-shuffled cards from the manufacturer, the packs must be broken open under surveillance video. Then laid out in order and examined physically for imperfections. The cards are then spread out on the table and mixed in with each other before being placed in the auto-shuffler machine.
* If the shuffler machine stops working for any reason a red light will show. It informs surveillance and floor/pit/dealer something is faulty and requires immediate investigation.
* Given these dollar amounts, why was Security not watching this game, or why did they not intervene immediately? By law the minute a customer hits $7000 in winnings on any game the dealer must call surveillance and have them take an image of the player. Over $10,000 and they must obtain and verify the player's ID — this is federal income tax law.
US media are following the story closely, and the coverage is likely to be extensive when the truth emerges.