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Encore prez: Lawsuit alleging casino cheated gamblers ‘false and unfounded’

Boston Herald

Jonathan Ng

July 18, 2019

State gambling regulators have reviewed a lawsuit that claims Encore Boston Harbor casino isn’t following state rules on blackjack payouts and “preliminarily found Encore to be in compliance with the commission’s rules and regulations.”

The class-action suit, filed in Middlesex Superior Court against Encore Boston Harbor and Wynn Resorts on behalf of plaintiff Richard Schuster, alleges the $2.6 billion casino tilted the blackjack payout odds at 6 to 5 instead of 3 to 2, in violation of state gaming law.

“The claims in the lawsuit are false and unfounded,” Encore Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio told reporters after the Massachusetts Gaming Commission meeting Thursday. “Every customer gets every penny that they deserve at Encore Boston Harbor, and never would we engage in a practice that would actually keep any of our customers’ money.”

The suit claims that players could be shortchanged payouts by $85,440 each day, translating to $30 million in additional profits each year. The suit comes weeks after Encore opened its $2.6 billion casino resort in Everett last month.

Schuster’s attorney, Joshua Garick, told reporters Thursday he was disappointed “that the investigation arm of the commission, in under 24 hours, conducted what they claim to be an investigation into our allegations,” without contacting his firm to discuss the allegations.

“If the Commission’s goal is to ensure gaming in Massachusetts is conducted with integrity, we question why Encore representatives sat with the (Investigations and Enforcement Bureau) investigators and participated in the presentation, while we were not contacted or invited to participate in any way,” Garick said in the statement to the Herald.

When asked by the Herald whether the commission reached out to Garick’s firm regarding the allegations, commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said in a statement, “We understand that the lawsuit will proceed in the appropriate forum; however, the Commission’s responsibility was to determine regulatory compliance by Encore.”

“The public filing of the lawsuit put the MGC on notice of these allegations and required the review of Encore’s compliance with rules and regulations developed by the Commission,” the statement continued. “MGC staff carefully reviewed the 13-page complaint alleging violations of our rules by Encore Boston Harbor. As the agency responsible for regulating the integrity of gaming and with understanding of our own rules and regulations, the IEB’s memo describes in detail the analysis regarding compliance by Encore.”

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