Card Counter Sues Casino

Card Counter Sues Casino

In the state of Indiana in America, a card counter has succesfully sued a casino after he was banned from playing blackjack.

Thomas Donovan was a self-taught card counter who supplemented his income by playing blackjack at a riverboat casino called Grand Victoria. Donovan had a deal with the pitt boss Patrick Banfield, that he was allowed to continue playing as long as he bet no more than 25 US dollars (187 rand) on any one hand. However, Banfield was replaced by a new pitt boss, Sonny Duquette, who banned Donovan from the blackjack table. Grand Victoria offered him access to other gambling games, but when Donovan refused to play any other game than blackjack he was ejected from the premises. He then sued the Casino for breach of contract, but the trial court ruled in favour of the casino. Donovan then took his case to the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn the trial court’s judgment.

Grand Victoria argued that, within the bounds of civil rights, as a privately owned establishment they had the right to exclude anybody “for any reason or none at all”. Donovan argued that his contract with Banfield had been breached and wanted the court to order Grand Victoria to grant him access to the blackjack tables again. The Court of Appeals turned down Donovan’s first claim, but ruled that since gambling rules in Indiana may exclusively be set by the Indiana Casino Control Commission, Grand Victoria did not have the authority to ban Donovan from the blackjack tables. In other words, the casino’s ban is not protected by common law. The Commission prohibits spectators touching the cards, limits players touching the cards, prohibits the marking or cards by any means, but it does not prohibit card counting.

The court ruled that Donovan was banned solely for his “mental conduct”, meaning his mental prowess, and granted his request for the order. Donovan stated in court that he had learnt how to count cards on the internet.

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