February 17, 2015

The House Always Wins

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A New Jersey Court ordered gamblers to return the $1.5 million dollars they on from the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City. The 14 gamblers won this money by playing a game of mini-baccarat after realizing that the cards the casino was using were not shuffled. Once the players made this realization they were able to clean house.

Confession: I had to actually look up baccarat to figure out how it’s played. It’s the game James Bond was playing in Dr. No. 

The casino brought  the suit against the gamblers even though they had (at least in theory) won the money fair and square due to the casino’s error in not making sure the cards were shuffled. The judge ruled that because the cards weren’t shuffled the state’s gambling regulations make the games illegal, and so the gamblers had to return their winnings.

So what led to this mistake? The casino apparently bought what it thought to be pre-shuffled cards from a company in Kansas City. Here’s the catch – the casino didn’t stop at suing the gamblers, it sued the Kansas City card company also. That case was settled confidentially out of court, which means we won’t ever know how much money the casino got from the card company.

One possibility is that the casino recovered the full value of its losses – $1.5 million – from the Kansas City card company before going after the gamblers in court. Quite the payday. But unless there was some screw-up by the lawyers for either the gamblers or the card company, the amount of the court award should be reduced by the amount of the confidential settlement. Also, most states have laws against this type of “double recovery.” Also this case seems headed for appeal so I wouldn’t cash in just yet.

The lesson to be learned from this is an old one: the house always wins. Even when it makes mistakes.

photo credit: The Perfect Shuffle via photopin (license)

Sam proudly represents those accused of crimes and injured through no fault of their own throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.

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