February 19, 2021 Casino, Land-Based

Encore Boston Harbor sued for lowering blackjack payout odds

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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments on 6:5 versus 3:2 in April.

In the latest development in an ongoing legal battle over the proper payoff of a natural blackjack at Encore Boston Harbor (pictured), the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has agreed to file an amicus brief.

The casino is owned and operated by Wynn Resorts.

In 2019, a class action lawsuit alleged Encore Boston Harbor was “stealing” from blackjack players by paying at 6-to-5 odds, arguing the “established rules of the game of blackjack” have established a payout of 3-to-2.

“While this may not sound significant, an analysis using conservative estimates and assumptions suggests that the aggregate loss to Massachusetts consumers is astounding,” the lawsuit states in part. “Assuming an average wager of $50 per hand and 80 hands of Blackjack per hour, Encore’s customers can expect to lose $35.60 per hour more than the losses they are already expected to incur in a fair blackjack game that complies with Massachusetts law. This means Encore is stealing $85,440.00 from its customers each day, or well in excess of $30 million each year.”

Similar allegations were made against another Massachusetts casino, MGM Springfield. That case was dismissed by a lower court, but has been appealed to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

Encore Boston Harbor has denied wrongdoing, pointing to an investigation by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in 2019 that said the casino was not in violation of regulations.

The MGC had previously declined to file a brief with the court, but this week voted to do so. The Commission has asked the state attorney general’s office make a determination as to the content of the brief.

Amicus briefs are due to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in mid-March, ahead of a hearing scheduled for April 7.

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