Casino lawsuits are nothing new; whether it’s disgruntled players who are annoyed they lost, or players who were refused their winnings by casinos, lawsuits against casinos have existed for almost as long as casinos themselves. In today’s post we’re going to be looking at some notable casino lawsuits, and how the cases came to court in the first place.
Online Casino Lawsuits
Whether it’s land-based or online casino lawsuits, both have seen a growing trend in recent years. These lawsuits often stem from disputes between players and casinos over winnings, usually in cases where casinos refuse to pay out players. Other players feel the casinos cheated them, which can lead to legal battles that, when successful, often result in significant payouts for the players. On this page, we’ll look at some of the most notable casino lawsuits in the United States.
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Lawsuits Against Casinos
Casinos, both online and brick-and-mortar, have been at the receiving end of lawsuits for various reasons. One of the main reasons is the refusal to pay winnings to players, with the casinos often claiming technical glitches caused their machines to pay out more than they should have done.
Players have also sued casinos for negligence, like allowing self-proclaimed gambling addicts to continue playing – and in countries like the UK, we’ve seen regulators and courts often siding with players in this respect.
Players want to ensure that casinos operate fairly and transparently, and when they feel this is not the case, they resort to legal action. Winning these lawsuits can result in compensation for players, but it also helps to hold casinos accountable. Unfortunately, here in the US, lawsuits against casinos are rarely won – and we’ll show you why later on.
After all, pursuing a lawsuit against a casino is not an easy task. The burden of proof often falls on the player, and these cases can be complex and costly. Despite this, some players have successfully won lawsuits against casinos, making legal history in the process.
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DoubleDown Interactive and IGT Pay Record Fine
In a recent ruling, a U.S. judge gave the green light to a huge $415 million settlement concerning a class-action lawsuit against online gaming titans DoubleDown Interactive LLC and International Game Technology PLC (IGT.N). The accusation? Violation of Washington state’s gambling and consumer protection laws.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik, based in Seattle, praised the settlement, pointing out its fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy. This marked the end of an over four-year battle, which was finally wrapped up following a decisive hearing.
The basis of the consumer complaints centered around the alleged illegal nature of the “social casino” games provided by the companies. The duo, however, rejected any liability, saying that the allegations were based on unproven interpretations of Washington’s gambling laws.
The base of the claim revolved around games that, while free to play, allowed users to purchase additional chips. The suit claimed that these games encouraged players to bet more than they otherwise would to accrue more chips. Thousands of individuals reportedly lost chips through gambling at DoubleDown Casino, leading the attorneys to push for reimbursement for these losses under Washington state law.
While DoubleDown and its legal team didn’t issue a statement in the aftermath of the ruling, Edelson’s Todd Logan, the leading attorney for the plaintiffs, celebrated the settlement. According to him, their overall social-casino litigation efforts have resulted in a substantial $651 million recovery for their clients and class members. As you can see, lawsuits against casinos aren’t limited to land-based establishments.
Social Casino Platforms Violate Washington Laws
Three prominent social casino platforms were recently made to pay a $3.5 million settlement resolving a class-action lawsuit that accused them of breaking Washington State’s gambling laws. Although this settlement was reached, the defendants point out that this does not mean they’re necessarily guilty.
The three platforms, all under Chinese ownership – Grande Games, SpinX Games, and Bole Technology – were taken to court by former player William Heathcote in late 2020. Heathcote, seeking help under Washington’s Recovery of Money Lost at Gambling Act, also alleged violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act and unjust enrichment.
Though these platforms use an in-game currency that doesn’t have any real-world value, the case ruled that players are nudged towards spending real money to get more in-game currency. The judge pointed out the notable Big Fish Casino case from 2018, which found that the virtual chips used at the platform do constitute “something of value”, even though they carry no monetary value in themselves.
This ruling effectively placed Big Fish’s play-money games within the purview of Washington State’s definition of gambling. This ruling had wide-ranging implications for the social games industry, extending beyond platforms mirroring casino-style games, and it’s clear this case was based quite heavily on it.
The recent settlement favors residents of Washington who engaged in games such as Cash Frenzy, Lotsa Slots, Jackpot World, Vegas Friends, Jackpot Mania, Jackpot Fever, DAFU, Cash Bash, and Jackpot Crush before January 31, 2022. The eventual pay-outs will be determined by how much claimants spent on gambling on these platforms.
As part of the settlement, the defendants will also roll out in-app resources to aid individuals who might be grappling with video game behavior disorders. They will introduce game mechanisms designed to dissuade excessive spending and provide options for self-exclusion.
$43 Million or a Steak Dinner?
In perhaps the most notable slot machine malfunction lawsuit, a woman decided to take legal action against a casino that tried to appease her with a complimentary steak dinner rather than the $43 million jackpot she thought she’d won.
Katrina Bookman found herself in the spotlight after she played the Sphinx slot machine at the Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York. She believed she won $43 million, which, if true, would have been the largest slot machine jackpot in U.S. history. She even took a celebratory selfie with the slot machine’s display – a photo that ended up going viral on social media.
However, when she tried to claim her prize, a casino worker informed her that there had been a machine error and she hadn’t won anything. Instead, they offered her a complimentary steak dinner and $2.25, both of which she declined. The casino’s spokesperson, Dan Bank, apologized for the confusion and stated that the displayed amount was due to a clear malfunction. This was later confirmed by the New York State Gaming Commission.
Bookman’s attorney, Alan Ripka, had been pushing for the casino to offer more compensation for Bookman. He deemed the casino’s reasoning to be “ridiculous,” questioning the quality of inspection and maintenance for such a machine. According to Ripka, the casino’s failure to explain the malfunction raises doubts about the fairness of the game for players who used the machine before Bookman.
The parent company of Resorts World Casino, Genting New York LLC, and the slot machine manufacturer, International Game Technology, were also listed as defendants in the complaint. Ripka planned to seek at least $43 million in damages, although, unfortunately for her, the courts ruled against her, and she lost her case.
Compulsive Gambler Files Lawsuit
In another notable casino lawsuit, a man based in New York City, Sam Antar, took legal action against the Borgata Casino, its owner MGM Resorts International, and its digital gambling partner, Entain. His allegations centered around his frequent disconnections while participating in online gambling, over a period of nine months where he gambled more than $29 million.
Antar asserts that these frequent disconnections often happened when he was on the verge of winning, leading to subsequent losses. The plaintiff made accusations of racketeering, fraud, and other wrongdoings, claiming that these institutions paid him approximately $30,000 monthly to dissuade him from bringing these issues to the attention of New Jersey gambling regulators.
It was a case closely followed by industry experts. However, the court ruled that connectivity problems are not the responsibility of casinos, with consumers instead being responsible. If you’re curious about casino lawsuits from elsewhere in the world, check out a few notable ones below:
CASE NAMEDETAILSArelia Taveras – The Danger AddictionIn 2008, compulsive gambler and lawyer Arelia Taveras lost around $1 million at Atlantic City. After losing her money, lawyer’s license, and home, she sued seven of Atlantic City’s largest casinos for $20 million, claiming they encouraged her addiction. However, she lost all lawsuits.Mark Johnston – The Unforgettable WeekendMark Johnston lost over $500,000 at the Downtown Grand Casino in Las Vegas in 2014 after a prolonged drinking and gambling spree. Johnston refused to pay the debt, claiming the casino served him alcohol despite his visible intoxication. His lawsuit against the casino was dismissed.Christian Hainz – The WinnerBetween 1997 and 2000, Christian Hainz accumulated €2.5 million in gambling debts with two Austrian casinos. He sued the casinos, claiming they were aware of his gambling addiction and did nothing to stop his excessive gambling. The Austrian Court of Appeal ruled in his favor in 2004, leading to the casinos reimbursing him €499,729.
Who is Sam Antar and why did he sue a casino?
San Antar is a known compulsive gambler who sued Borgata Casino, MGM Resorts International, and Entain for fraud and racketeering. He alleged that during his online gambling sessions, he faced frequent disconnections, particularly when he was about to win. He further alleged that these companies paid him to prevent him from reporting these issues to regulators. His claim, however, was unsuccessful and thrown out of court.
What are online casino lawsuits?
Online casino lawsuits are legal actions brought by players against online casinos – some of which are required to follow different laws to land-based casinos. These lawsuits usually occur due to disputes between players and casinos over winnings or situations where players believe casinos have cheated them.
Why were DoubleDown Interactive and IGT sued?
DoubleDown Interactive and IGT were sued for violating Washington state’s gambling and consumer protection laws. The consumer complaints centered around the alleged illegal nature of their “social casino” games.
Why do casinos usually win lawsuits?
There’s a simple reason why casinos often win lawsuits – they have the money to hire the best lawyers. Online casinos and land-based casinos know that if they’re found guilty, they’ll have to pay millions of dollars, and so, for them, it’s worth spending a lot on a good legal team.
Why did Katrina Bookman sue Resorts World Casino?
Katrina Bookman sued Resorts World Casino after she believed she had won a $43 million jackpot, but the casino claimed there had been a machine error and offered her a steak dinner and $2.25 instead.