In 2012 fourteen patrons of Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, couldn’t believe their luck when the cards were dealt to them completely unshuffled in a game of mini-baccarat. Unfortunately for them, the courts have now found in favour of the casino and the players have been ordered to pay back what they won in that game.
Altogether $1.5 million is owed to the casino following the court’s decision on the long-running dispute, as reported by Business Insider. The card manufacturers have been blamed for supplying the casino with what was meant to be pre-shuffled cards, ready to be dealt. Instead, as the game of mini-baccarat got underway, the players quickly began to notice a pattern and they increased their bets as their confidence grew. After forty-one consecutive hands were dealt the fourteen players had amassed $1.5 million in winnings. Security staff had reportedly gathered around them, watching their every move, yet they were unable to prove that any cheating was taking place.
In court, the gamblers argued that the fault wasn’t theirs and they should be allowed to keep the winnings. However, State Superior Court Judge Donna Taylor saw things differently and came down on the side of the casino. She determined that the games were illegal under state law because they didn’t conform to gambling regulations specifying the way each game should be played, Business Insider reported.Because the cards were not pre-shuffled prior to the commencement of play, the game violated a literal reading of the Casino Control Act and was therefore not authorised.
She ruled that the players must return any cash paid to them and any outstanding chips in their possession, and the casino must refund the players’ buy-ins. Meanwhile, the casino’s litigation against the card manufacturer (which has admitted fault) has reportedly been resolved but details were not revealed owing to a confidentiality agreement.
Business Insider reported that the owner of the Golden Nugget, Tillman Fertitta, had originally agreed to let the players keep the winnings, but that was dependent on them dropping other claims they had made against the casino, which they reportedly declined to do.
Local news site NJ.com reported that a similar incident had occurred at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort where unshuffled cards were used in mini-baccarat for 3.5 hours before staff realised that something was wrong. That incident resulted in a $91,000 fine for the casino and nine staff members lost their jobs.