Lawsuit Filed Against Encore

A class-action lawsuit filed Monday in
Middlesex Superior Court on behalf of a New York man is accusing Encore Boston
Harbor of not following the state’s Blackjack rules when it comes to variations
on the game – in particular the ‘6 to 5’ variation.

A second piece of that suit alleges that
electronic kiosks for redeeming winnings at the casino were withholding change,
rounding down to the lowest dollar amount for the payment.

Encore, in a statement, denied the
accusations.

And the Massachusetts Gaming Commission
(MGC) said it is reviewing the allegations.

“The MGC is aware of the lawsuit and
reviewing its content to determine next steps,” said MGC Spokesperson Elaine
Driscoll.

Encore Spokesperson Rosie Salisbury said
they have followed all of the state’s rules for Blackjack and gaming since
opening.

“Since opening, Encore Boston Harbor follows
the Massachusetts Gaming Commission regulations for blackjack payouts,” she
said on Monday.

The lawsuit is filed on behalf of A. Richard
Schuster of New York as a class action for all betters since opening, and it
delves into the ins and outs of Blackjack and all of its variations. Schuster
allegedly visited the casino and played on July 11.

Specifically, the suit claims there have
been problems with how the ‘6 to 5’ variation of the game has been run at
Encore. The ‘6 to 5’ statistically can benefit the house, and it has been the
primary Blackjack game offered on most occasions in the gaming floor of Encore,
with the standard ‘3 to 2’ game sometimes closed off and located at the back of
the gaming floor.

The ‘6 to 5’ term refers to the odds for the
payout on a Blackjack, so that a $100 winning bet pays $120.

Part of Schuster’s suit indicates that the
casino is only paying out the ‘6 to 5’ odds on a Blackjack, and should be
paying out ‘3 to 2’ odds according to the state law governing the game.

That law is not for the novice, and will
require a careful review by experts at the MGC.

However, the rules do state odds that must
be paid. Most wagers in the game are to be paid out at a 1-to-1 ratio. The
payouts change, however, for a Blackjack – which is defined as “an ace and any
card having a point value of 10 dealt as the initial two cards to a player or a
dealer except that this shall not include an ace and a ten point value card

dealt to a player who has split pairs.”

That payout is what is at odds.

The MGC rules for Blackjack read that a
Blackjack played at a ‘6 to 5’ can pay out at that ratio.

“All winning wagers…shall be paid at odds of
1 to 1 with the exception of standard blackjack which shall be paid at odds of
3 to 2, or at odds of 6 to 5 for the 6 to 5 blackjack variation,” read the
regulations.

Also at stake is the numbers of decks of
cards used in games of ‘6 to 5.’ It is alleged the casino was using more than
two decks, which some say is the standard for that game. However, the rules at
the MGC are not entirely clear, stating that a minimum of one or two decks must
be used. Nothing seems to state that there is a maximum number of decks for
that variation.

“Notwithstanding the foregoing, the minimum
number of decks used to play blackjack shall be…one or two, if the 6 to 5
blackjack variation is offered,” read the regulations.

However, in a totally different subsection
regarding how to play ‘6 to 5’ Blackjack, there seems to be an expectation that
no more than two decks would be used – and that they have to be dealt from the
dealer’s hand and not using a dealing machine.

“The dealer shall remove the shuffled deck
or decks from the automated shuffling device, and shall place the single deck
or two stacked decks of cards in either hand,” read the state rules. “Once the
dealer has chosen the hand in which he or she will hold the cards, the dealer
shall use that hand whenever holding the cards during that round of play. The
cards held by the dealer shall at all times be kept in front of the dealer and
over the table inventory container.”

There are also rules in that section about
whether the cards in that variation are to be dealt up or facedown. The lawsuit
does challenge that practice of how the game is dealt as well.

Much of the allegations are very detailed,
and will require careful review by both a judge and the MGC. What is
particularly at stake, it would appear, is whether or not the state’s rules
conform to the standards of such games of chance in other parts of the country
and world.

The MGC did not say if there were other such
complaints about the Blackjack rules in the Springfield MGM casino – the only
other venue in the state where Blackjack is allowed.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Encore

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