Judge: Gamblers Ordered To Return Big Winnings For Casino’s Unshuffled Cards

Some unlucky gamblers who mistakenly thought they were very lucky when they figured out cards weren’t shuffled won $1.5 million at a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A judge broke the news to the gamblers when she ordered them to return the winnings to the casino.

According to the Associated Press, State Superior Court Judge Donna Taylor told the 14 gamblers the Golden Nugget casino wasn’t at fault and should be allowed to keep the winnings it handed out to the gamblers. Taylor decided the games were illegal under New Jersey law because they didn’t match gambling regulations which describe how every game must be played.

The games, to be precise, were mini-baccarat, which used decks of cards which were supposed to be pre-shuffled by a manufacturer for the casino. The cards were not shuffled, and players soon realized a pattern and raised “their bets from $10 a hand to $5,000 and won 41 straight hands,” according to the Associated Press.

The games were played in April, 2012, but the ruling came on Monday and was publicized by the Golden Nugget casino on Thursday. Judge Taylor wrote an explanation for her ruling.

“The dealer did not pre-shuffle the cards immediately prior to the commencement of play, and the cards were not pre-shuffled in accordance with any regulation. Thus, a literal reading of the regulations… entails that the game violated the (Casino Control) Act, and consequently was not authorized.”

Judge Taylor ordered the 14 gamblers to pay back the winnings, which includes cash winnings and outstanding chips, and the casino must refund each gambler the money they first used to play the game.

The Golden Nugget’s general manager, Tom Pohlman, agreed with the judge.

“We believe it was the right decision,” Pohlman said.

Lawyers for the gamblers did not immediately respond to comment, but it is expected they may appeal the decision.

Originally, the casino paid about $500,000 in winnings to the gamblers, and around $1 million in chips were still outstanding. Casino owner Tillman Fertitta was going to let the gamblers keep the winnings, but they were supposed to drop some other claims they had against the Golden Nugget. The gamblers refused, so a legal battle has been brewing between the casino and the gamblers for some time.

As for the manufacturer from Kansas City, a confidentiality agreement prevents the Golden Nugget from discussing details about the cards, other than the manufacturer admitted in court that it failed to shuffle the cards.

[Image via Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]