The State Judicial Court (SJC) recently dismissed a class action lawsuit claiming that Encore Boston Harbor was withholding blackjack winnings from patrons.
In July 2019, Attorney Joshua Garick, counsel for A. Richard Schuster of New York, filed a Complaint stating that his client and other patrons were bound by traditional blackjack rules which paid at odds of three to two. Yet, Garick said, winnings were being paid out at odds of six to five, which, he claimed, violated Rule 7(d) of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Blackjack Rules. “Encore is stealing $85,440 from its customers each day,” Garick said in his 13-page Complaint.
Using a $50 bet as an example, Garick said a player would be entitled to a $75 payout using three to two odds. Yet, odds of six to five would only produce a $60 winning. “This is designed to maximize the casino’s advantage,” said Garick.
However, in a 31-page decision rendered by SJC Justice Scott Kafker, he said Schuster and the other plaintiffs were sitting at tables that required lower bets and used the six to five blackjack variation for payouts. “The plaintiffs sat down at tables with the basic rules and six to five payouts printed on the felt of the table,” said Kafker. “There is no indication that the casino attempted to deceive players as to the rules of the game or the stakes they were playing.” He also said the Gaming Commission has always authorized a six to five payout under Rule 7(d).
“We conclude that the plaintiffs understood the rules and that deference is due to the commission’s interpretation,” said Kafker. “Therefore, the plaintiffs lose this last bet. They should have quit while they were ahead.” In addition, he said traditional blackjack is only offered to Encore’s wealthier patrons.
“Schuster played six to five payout blackjack at Encore and received six to five payouts,” said Kafker. “The plaintiffs contend that the regulations carry more legal weight than the rules of blackjack and thus any conflict between the regulations and the rules should be resolved in favor of the regulations. We disagree. The blackjack rules and regulations carry equal weight, as they are proposed and approved through similarly rigorous processes.”