he president of Encore Boston Harbor fired back at a lawsuit against the casino before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Thursday, which claims that customers are being short-changed. “Every single customer gets every dollar and every penny they have coming due to them,” Robert DeSalvio said. “At no time did we ever round and not give customers back the money that they truly deserved.”
In a class-action lawsuit filed last week, New York resident Richard Schuster claims the casino is tilting the payout odds in a version of a blackjack game, getting odds at 6-5 instead of 3-2, meaning he gets less money. At a meeting of the commission Thursday, photos were posted claiming the tables are clearly marked about the odds being paid, but the attorney who filed the suit is not so convinced and intends to move forward.
“We intend to raise issues before a judge rather than in a commission where inspectors and representatives from the casino are sitting at the same table,” said attorney Joshua Garick, as reported by CBS Boston.
The commission’s Investigation and Enforcement Bureau reviewed the claims and has determined “preliminarily” that Encore is in compliance with state regulations. But chairwoman Cathy Judd-Stein says the casino will still be monitored. “We want to make sure we review matters fairly, objectively and transparently,” she said.
Gaming agent division chief assistant director Bruce Band said the confusion over the state’s blackjack payout rules may stem from the commission’s website, which uses the term “6 to 5” in two different contexts. The lawsuit references section 6A of the commission’s explanation of blackjack rules. This section references a particular type of blackjack that is different from the standard game and uses different dealing procedures. Band said this variation has never been offered at the Encore property, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Instead, the casino offers standard blackjack. Band said licensees are allowed to pay odds at 3-2 or 6-5, and nearly 35 percent of the tables at Encore have a 6-5 payout. “The payout odds of a particular table are displayed on each table’s felt layout,” Band said. He explained the 6-5 payout odds option is authorized at a number of other jurisdictions, including Nevada.
The suit also claims slot winners aren’t getting their full payout because ticket redemption machines only dispense dollars and not coins which customers are told have to be redeemed with a cashier. Encore’s president says it’s difficult to keep redemption machines filled with coins when the casino is at “full volume” but will consider options to make coin redemption more convenient.
Band said the agents found Encore does not use coins in its redemption machines. Players who redeem their tickets at a machine receive a full-dollar amount, as well as a ticket for the change. Those tickets can be redeemed either in slot machines or the ticket cage. Band said signs explaining this process are now posted on machines on the casino floor.
Additionally, Band said all tickets not redeemed within one year are deposited into the commonwealth’s gaming revenue fund. Schuster’s lawsuit, filed in the Middlesex County Superior Court, comes as the casino reported raking in nearly USD 17 million in gaming revenue in its first week open.