Louisiana Law to Protect Skilled Gamblers Unenforceable, Say Card Counters

Posted on: November 23, 2018, 08:28h. 

Last updated on: November 23, 2018, 08:28h.

Blackjack card counters and other advantage gamblers in Louisiana finally thought they’d been dealt a decent hand when the legislature approved Act 451 — a law that prohibited gaming establishments from excluding patrons based on their skill levels at a certain game.

Card counters
Louisiana appeared to outlaw its casinos from kicking out advantage players this year, but in practice the new rules appear to be unenforceable and little has changed for card counters on the state’s riverboat casinos. (Image: Ameristar Casino)

The law, effective last August 1, largely flew under the radar because it was overshadowed by a slew of bigger gaming issues, like riverboat casinos moving onshore and the regulation of daily fantasy sports.

The new rules appeared to offer protections to skilled players from being “86’d” from casinos, but The Baton Rouge Advocate reports that it’s business as usual at the state’s gaming facilities. Card counters are still not welcome and they are complaining that the law is essentially useless.

Futile Exercise

“Nothing’s changed in the state of Louisiana,” Don Loehr, a 63-year-old attorney from Baton Rouge who counts cards in his spare time, told The Advocate. “It’s an exercise in futility. Why do we even pass laws?”

Card-counting does not break any law of the land, and nor does not break any rule of blackjack — but in most states, casinos have the right to ban advantage players whenever they spot them.

It is illegal for the casino to detain a card counter or confiscate their chips, however, as no crime has been committed, although many casinos have been known to do so.

How Does Card-Counting Work?

Counters are able to build a slight edge against the house by using a system that — at the most basic level — ascribes a value (positive, negative, or zero) to each card as it comes out of the deck, keeping a tally of the score in their head.

Since the high cards (tens through aces) favor the player and low cards favor the dealer, the count allows players to determine when there are more favorable high cards left in the deck than low cards. At this point, the deck becomes “hot,” and bet sizes can be increased

“It’s the only game you have a chance — and it’s slight — that if you keep track of the cards, you can possibly get an advantage,” said Loehr. “I do this for the challenge. Most people don’t have the patience to do what we do.”

Louisiana police spokesman Doug Cain confirmed to The Advocate that while the State Police Gaming Division had received calls on the issue, they are not required to step in when players are excluded from casinos. At this point, it is a civil matter between patron and licensee, he added.

Which is another way of saying the house (still) always wins.