Class-action suit alleges Encore Boston Harbor cheats gamblers
A class-action lawsuit filed Monday alleges that the newly opened Encore Boston Harbor casino is cheating gamblers through its blackjack and slot machine practices.
The suit, filed in Middlesex Superior Court against the casino and its parent companies, claims that the casino’s “6 to 5” blackjack games violate state rules “to maximize the casino’s advantage far in excess of that which is permitted.”
A 6-to-5 blackjack game pays out at 6-to-5 odds, rather than the standard 3 to 2, when a player hits blackjack. Under a 3-to-2 payout, someone who placed a wager of $50 and is dealt a blackjack would be paid $75, while under a 6-to-5 payout, the gambler would be paid $60.
State rules allows the lower 6-to-5 payout at casinos, but only if other conditions are met. The lawsuit claims that Encore has violated state law by coupling the 6-to-5 rules with “traditional rules that are also favorable to the house.”
According to the lawsuit, lower payout games must be played with one or two decks, rather than the usual six to eight decks. Players must be dealt two cards face down, which they are then allowed to pick up and look at.
But the lawsuit states that in some 6-to-5 games, Encore does not allow players to touch the cards and that cards are dealt face up. The legal filing also claimed that in some instances at Encore, there are “no single or two deck shoes” at the 6-to-5 games.
The rule differences matter, according to the suit, because “it alters, significantly, the casino’s statistical advantage.”
The lawsuit also claims Encore is failing to refund slot credits to players who have cashed out on a machine. Ticket redemption machines pay out only whole dollar amounts “without paying change, and without instruction on how to obtain the balance,” the lawsuit alleges.
“The unredeemed change, therefore, is never returned to the player and is simply added to Encore’s coffers,” the lawsuit states.
A spokeswoman for Encore Boston denied the accusations Monday, saying the Everett casino has followed state regulations for blackjack payouts since it opened. The casino has also followed state regulations for slot machine ticket redemptions “and our operational procedures have been approved by the” commission, she said.
Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which regulates the state’s casinos, said regulators are “aware of the lawsuit and reviewing its content to determine next steps.”
The lawsuit is seeking actual and statutory damages, triple damages, an order stopping the defendants “from continuing to engage in the unlawful conduct alleged,” and attorneys’ fees and costs.
The 210,000-square-foot casino held its grand opening on June 23. It raked in $16.7 million in gaming revenue in its opening week last month, paying out $4.1 million in taxes, according to the state.