High Court Rules for Casinos in Massachusetts Blackjack Case
A Massachusetts high court ruled in favor of gaming operators in a blackjack case regarding 6:5 odds.
For quite some time now, class action lawsuits have been running full steam ahead in Massachusetts involving casinos offering 6:5 odds at the blackjack tables. Traditionally, the standard odds are 3:2 and players filing the suits felt that that casino was breaking the law by offering the other odds. The high court ruled this week that while the rules are impossible to understand in the state, the commission’s decision that the casinos operating blackjack games correctly stands.
Ruling for the Casinos
Justice Scott Kafker stated that the plaintiffs lost the last bet and they should have quite while they were ahead. In the lawsuits, the plaintiffs claimed that players were unknowingly led to the variant that had the 6:5 payout. In this game, the ace and a 10 or face card pays the 6:5 instead of 3:2.
Let’s say you place a $20 bet. at a 3:2 payout, you would cash out $30 on a win. On a 6:5 payout, you earn $24. If you consider the hundreds of thousands of hands that casinos deal each year, the amount earned from the payout difference is staggering. Tens of millions can be won by the casino.
When the cases started, a state judge ruled in favor of the casinos. However, a federal judge felt the gamblers argument held more merit and ruled in their favor. The question was then certified in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court with a consistent ruling in each case.
The rules in place by the gaming commission state that a standard version of blackjack has a 3:2 payout and the 6:5 variation is more favorable to the player. The rules suggest that the 6:5 odds can be paid without the 6:5 variation being played. This is what the MGM Springfield and the Encore Boston Harbor do.
In 2019, the plaintiffs filed lawsuits against both casinos and the fight has been ongoing ever since. The commission clarified the rules in 2020 stating that the 6:5 odds at the casinos were within the rules. However, the lawsuits continued.
The justices involved in these two cases were frustrated over the rules, basically calling the configuration a mess. The rules have been called an interpretative challenge and ambiguous. In the end, one judge even said that there was no good way to make sense of the rules but the commission’s interpretation seemed to side with the casinos and that had to be deferred to.
The court was concerned about the 6:5 odds and felt they were unfair to players. The odds at the blackjack tables are longer than the high stakes games that have more lenient rules. Some even felt that the casinos might be leading people with gambling problems to the higher stakes tables to receive a payout.
However, the casinos do have the rules listed on the 6:5 games and players can read them. Players at these tables should know what they are getting in to. In the ruling, the judge said that the plaintiffs understood the rules and the stakes.
The two casinos operated a game that was house friendly, and they did not device players into thinking it was more player friendly than it actually is.
This was the last-ditch effort by the plaintiff to see a ruling in the cases involving the Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield. For now, the casinos will be able to continue to offer the 6:5 tables without potential repercussions from the public.