Contract Law

Judge in Unshuffled Cards Case Tells Casino to Ante Up $1M to Cash Players' Chips; Appeal Planned


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In a Friday ruling that provoked an angry outburst from the general counsel for an Atlantic City casino and a complaint from another lawyer of a “rigged game,” the Golden Nugget was ordered by a New Jersey judge to ante up nearly $1 million to pay gamblers for the chips they won after realizing that cards were being dealt from unshuffled decks in a series of mini-baccarat games on April 30.

Ruling on a motion in a civil case involving various claims by both sides related to the disputed payout, Superior Court Judge James Isman also told the Golden Nugget that it couldn’t reclaim another $500,000 it paid some winners after the games, according to the Associated Press and the Herald.

As more than 40 hands were dealt that day from unshuffled decks provided by a Kansas City, Mo., company that was supposed to have shuffled them in advance, players realized that the cards were being dealt out in the same sequence, hand after hand, the article explains.

According to lawyers for the casino and the company that provided the cards, players who had been betting $10 a hand suddenly increased their wagers to $5,000. They say the Golden Nugget players shouldn’t get a “windfall” payout due to what was supposed to be a game of chance being converted by mistake to a relatively sure thing, contrary to state gaming regulations.

However, one of the gamblers, Michael Cho, said after the judge’s ruling that he had done nothing wrong and was still taking a big chance, since there was no telling when the run of unshuffled decks might end, the AP reports.

“We took a chance on every hand we bet, that it wouldn’t change,” he stated. “We didn’t know if it was going to change. That’s called gambling.”

The judge based his rulings on a similar rationale. It appears that neither the casino nor the players knew in advance that the decks of cards hadn’t been shuffled.

After the adverse decision by Isman, Golden Nugget executive vice president and general counsel Steven Scheinthal told the judge in a loud, angry voice that he hadn’t taken all information into consideration and contended that players had collaborated to make a killing, violating house rules.

The judge said he hadn’t been spoken to in this manner in 12 years on the bench and advised the casino that it could appeal his decision as soon as Tuesday. An appeal is now planned, according to the AP article.

Additional coverage:

Daily Mail: “Second lucky strike for gamblers who won $1m when casino didn’t shuffle cards as judge rules they can keep their money”

New York Post: “Casino craps out as court hands players $1M”

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