Massachusetts gaming regulators say the new Encore Boston Harbor casino isn’t cheating gamblers with its blackjack and slot machine policies.
Earlier this week, an angry gambler named Richard Schuster launched a class-action lawsuit against Wynn Resorts’ shiny new Encore Boston Harbor casino, which opened to the public late last month despite a flurry of negative press surrounding the antics of former boss Steve Wynn.
The suit alleges that the casino is paying out blackjack wins at 6:5 odds rather than 3:2, while also rounding down slots winnings to the nearest dollar. Schuster claims this is allowing the casino to pad its bottom line at the expense of rank-and-file gamblers, a critical mass of which Schuster hopes will join his longshot legal action.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) summoned Encore president Robert DeSalvio to its regular meeting on Thursday to quiz him on the specifics of Schuster’s claims. Addressing the slots claim, DeSalvio said rounding “is not part of the equation” and that Encore’s slots jockeys get “every dollar and every penny that they have coming due to them.”
Bruce Band, one of the investigative Columbo-types on the MGC staff, testified that slots players who redeem their winning tickets at a redemption machine are paid out in bills rounded off to the dollar, but also receive a ticket for any change they’re due. These tickets can be used for further slots play or redeemed at the cash cage.
These change tickets are only valid for one year, but DeSalvio hastened to add that “in no way, shape or form does that money ever come back” to Encore. Band confirmed that all unredeemed tickets are fed into the state’s gaming revenue fund. DeSalvio said Encore would consider upgrading its redemption machines to allow them to spit out coins, as is the practice at the state’s other two gaming venues.
As for the blackjack odds, Band said Schuster is simply confused as to the rules. The MGC’s rulebook does state that certain forms of blackjack must pay out at 3:2, but Encore doesn’t offer these variants. The blackjack games that Encore does offer pay out at either 6:5 or 3:2 depending on each table’s bet limits, as permitted under MGC rules, and each table lists the payout odds right there on the felt.
Local media quoted Schuster’s attorney Joshua Garrick as being unimpressed with Thursday’s testimony, stating that his client was committed to “vigorously pursuing” the matter in court.