Supreme Judicial Court to Hear Massachusetts Blackjack Case
The Supreme Judicial Court will hear a case this week involving Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield offering less favorable odds in blackjack games.
An interesting case will be heard by the Supreme Judicial Court this week, involving two casinos in Massachusetts. MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor are named in the case, with the court to determine if the casino operators are legally allowed to offer blackjack games that provide less favorable odds to players. Arguments will begin today.
Details of the Cases
The state’s Gaming Commission creates the rules that casinos must follow in order to provide games and maintain licensing for operation. When a dispute arises involving the rules and regulations, the parties involved head to court. In the case of Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield, both casinos were part of lawsuits discussing the legality of the blackjack odds they provide.
Because two judges’ rules in different ways in the two cases, the Supreme Judicial Court is weighing in. The case involves the game of blackjack and its rules. In general, the game will have odds of 3 to 2. If a player bets $100 and gets a blackjack with these odds, then the payout is $150.
The game can also take place with 6 to 5 odds. In this case, the $100 bet would only provide a $120 win. The 6 to 5 odds do not give the player and advantage and does not follow the traditional rules of blackjack. Both casinos were offering these odds. The problem is that the casinos were following traditional gaming rules but using the 6 to 5 odds. The two do not mix.
At the Encore Casino, the 6 to 5 odds tables were usually the ones with lower betting amounts. Both casinos were offering these games until the lawsuits were filed. The Encore faces a suit that says it should not be allowed to offer the 6 to 5 payout without changing the rules to the variation of the game that requires that payout. MGM Springfield faces a similar lawsuit.
For MGM, the lawsuit was dismissed by a Superior Court judge. For Encore’s case, the just said the casino was not allowed to give the payout.
Gaming Commission’s Take
The state Gaming Commission took a look at the issue with the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau investigating. They determined that the rules allowed the 6 to 5 payouts with the traditional game rules. The casinos had done nothing wrong.
After the ruling by the US District Court, the Commission decided to clarify the rules so that it was clear that the 6 to 5 payout could be used with traditional blackjack rules, if the odds are displayed where players can see them. The rule change went into effect last October.
The Supreme Judicial Court is now hearing the case due to the two different rulings in the MGM and Encore cases. Both cases do not challenge the amended rules by the Commission. But, the attorneys for the players in the cases are seeking compensation for paying out the prizes based on the lower odds. The attorney’s want compensation from the time the casinos started offering services to when the rules were clarified.
A brief has been filed with the Supreme Judicial Court stating that the new rules are anti-consumer, and they will take and additional $30 million in blackjack revenues from unknowing players. The casinos maintain they have the right to offer such games. They say that court rulings, plus the Commission’s rule clarity are enough to show that the odds they offer are legal and in line with what the state allows.
It will be interesting to see what happens in this case. Will the court rule in favor of the casinos or the player?