Macau Customs Service files criminal complaint against Shuffle Master


shuffle-master-macau-customs-legal-fightLas Vegas-based Station Casinos is trumpeting the launch of what the company claims is the largest multi-site progressive blackjack game in the United States. Station has previously linked pai gow poker progressives across multiple properties, but this is a first for blackjack. Nine Station properties are participating in the scheme, which involves Shuffle Master’s Hit And Run series. According to Station’s corporate blog, players become eligible when they make a $1 side bet on the dealer’s hand, and they win $4 if the dealer hits a blackjack. If the dealer makes a hand using five or more cards, the player wins from $7-200. If the dealer’s hand involves eight or more cards, the player wins the progressive jackpot. The Las Vegas Sun reported that two jackpots have already been claimed: a $10.5k score at Santa Fe Station and $15.4k at Sunset Station. Shuffle Master CEO Gavin Isaacs said the company was “delighted” with Station’s initiative.

‘Delighted’ was not how anyone would have described Shuffle Master’s reaction to being served with an injunction ordering it (and several other companies) to cover up certain gaming devices on the Global Gaming Expo Asia (G2E) exhibition floor last week. The injunction, which was presented by the Macau Customs Service, claimed Shuffle Master’s live dealer baccarat machines infringed on intellectual property belonging to Macau-based device maker LT Game (part of a legal fight now three years running). While Shuffle Master initially complied with the order, strenuous objections and (allegedly) veiled threats by G2E organizers – including American Gaming Association boss Frank Fahrenkopf – resulted in the machines being uncovered later on that same day.

The Macau Customs Service has not let the matter lie, however. Portuguese-language media outlet Ponto Final reported this week that Customs has filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutions Office, alleging that Shuffle Master failed to comply with the orders it received. Shuffle Master officials told Gambling Compliance that they had posted a bond of 1m patacas ($125k) on May 23 that allowed the injunction to be lifted and Shuffle Master’s wares to be displayed. But Customs is asking for criminal charges to be laid against Shuffle Master for allegedly uncovering the offending games before the court approved the bond.

Shuffle Master now says it intends to “vigorously pursue” its legal fight against LT Game. Last week, Isaacs had resorted to bluster, declaring to local media that the US government “will get involved in this.” (The corporate equivalent of ‘I’m telling my dad!’) Someone really ought to remind Isaacs that Shuffle Master is not in Kansas (or Las Vegas) anymore and that there are limits to America’s ability and/or willingness to play bully boy in this region of the world.