SugarHouse Casino $250K Lawsuit Filed by Two Pennsylvania Players Alleges Bad Card Decks and Shufflers
Posted on: May 24, 2019, 09:40h.
Last updated on: May 24, 2019, 09:42h.
Two Pennsylvania gamblers are suing the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia for $250,000, alleging the gaming venue used card shufflers that failed to function properly and decks that had too few — or too many — cards.
In a complaint filed Wednesday in US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Anthony Mattia of Philadelphia said he lost $147,000 at SugarHouse from May 2017 through to Jan. 1, 2018. William Vespe of Cherry Hill, Pennsylvania is suing the Rush Street Gaming-owned casino for $103,000 for losses incurred during that same period.
Both men allege the venue did not provide fair play in blackjack, mini-baccarat, and poker games, and claim that the alleged absence of fairness caused significant financial harm to them.
Among other claims in the complaint, Mattia and Vespe accuse SugarHouse and Rush Street Gaming of breach of contract, negligence, and unjust enrichment. Both men are also seeking unspecified damages and compensation for attorneys and cost of suit fees.
The complaint describes both Mattia and Vespe as “frequent wagering” customers at SugarHouse.
PGCB Fines Point to Past Card Deck Problems
The players may be able to point to a pattern of card problems, based on fines issued by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) last July for the same time period in which the gamblers claim they were victims of bad decks and shufflers. The state regulator hit SugarHouse with a $100,000 fine for dealing cards to players out of bad decks.
In some instances, dealers dealt cards out of decks with too many cards. On other occasions, there were not enough cards, and in one poker tournament, cards were doled out to participants in sequential order instead of being randomly shuffled.
The casino said some employees failed to pay attention to warning lights on automatic shufflers. Though the gaming property and investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of staffers, two supervisors at the venue were fired, although one was later reinstated.
In May 2017, a SugarHouse technician found 16 cards lingering in a shuffler that had been pulled from service. Investigators would later trace those cars back to their original decks, discovering that they had been used in 122 individual hands of blackjack the day before.
Then during a September 2017 poker tournament, 16 hands were dealt with cards in sequential order before the dealer realized the dealt hands were all of the same suit.
In another infraction, SugarHouse was given a $12,500 fine for dealing Spanish 21 with too many cards. Spanish 21 is similar to blackjack, but in the case of the former, the 10s are not in play, meaning the decks used for the game should consist of 48 cards, not the usual 52.
Implied Breach of Contract Alleged
The complaint filed by Mattia and Vespe says the men “have been damaged and sustained damages.” Attorneys for the plaintiffs assert paying patrons have an implied contract with SugarHouse that ensures fair play and “an honest wagering environment” and that the casino operator breached that contract.
Conrad Benedetto, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said it is fair to question the integrity of card games played at SugarHouse during the period in question given the length of time faulty shufflers and bad decks were in service.
Seeking compensatory and punitive damages, the plaintiffs have requested a jury trial.
It has been a rough few days of public relations for SugarHouse. Last week it was reported the Philadelphia casino received a $17,500 fine from the PGCB for serving a patron 17 free drinks over an eight-hour period while that guest was playing Pai Gow Tiles last September. Surveillance footage shows the gambler was clearly inebriated and he was later arrested for public drunkenness.