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US – Golden Nugget wins out in ‘unshuffled card’ court case

By - 16 June 2014

A Superior Court in New Jersey has ruled that the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City does not have to honour US$1.5m won by a group of baccarat players who realised the cards had not been shuffled.

Judge James Isman instructed the casino it would be allowed to recover more than $500,000 it already paid them, ruling that the game of mini-baccarat played in April 2012 was illegal under state casino rules, due to the unshuffled cards.

Kansas City playing card manufacturer Gemaco, conceded in court that it had made an error in supplying unshuffled cards to the casino, however a Golden Nugget lawyer said a confidentiality agreement prevented any further comment. Having realised the cards were being dealt in a specific pattern, the $1.5m in winnings was ‘won’ by 14 players over 41 straight hands. Many of the players were said to increase their bets from $10 a hand to $5,000. The Golden Nugget said surveillance supervisors closed in to discover how ‘a sophisticated swindling and cheating scheme’ was being carried out.

“From the beginning to the end of play, however, the plaintiff could not identify any particular act of those players that actually constituted swindling and cheating,” the casino stated.

Nine players were able to cash out $558,900 in gaming chips but a further $977,800 had been owed.
Following a preliminary court ruling two years ago Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta had originally offered to pay the remainder of the disputed winnings. However the players rejected the deal.

The Golden Nugget said in a statement: “We were 100 per cent vindicated by Judge Isman’s ruling. Remarkably, and despite this generous proposal, the gamblers and their lawyers steadfastly refused, and selfishly wanted more damages than just the gambling winnings. Instead of walking away with over a $1.5m win, the gamblers must now return all of their gambling chips to the Golden Nugget. There are obvious lessons to be learned by all sides as a result of this incident. Unfortunately for the gamblers, it cost them over $1.5m.”

A lawyer for several of the defendants declined to comment.

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