Gaming Commission to address class-action lawsuit against Encore
July 17, 2019
Massachusetts gambling regulators on Thursday will address allegations of shaved payouts made in a class-action lawsuit against Encore Boston Harbor following a preliminary review by state investigators.
The state Gaming Commission announced its 11th-hour decision in a revised meeting agenda notice Wednesday, two days after a New York gambler sued Encore Boston Harbor in a class-action suit, accusing the Everett casino of tilting the blackjack payout odds when he played there last week.
“As we have previously stated, the MGC was made aware of the lawsuit on Monday and said it would review its contents to determine next steps. As a next step, the Investigations and Enforcement Bureau will brief the Commission during tomorrow’s public meeting,” commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said in a statement to Herald Wednesday.
“The IEB is the unit responsible for reviewing compliance matters and ensuring adherence to rules and regulations. The IEB has conducted a preliminary review of this matter and will be prepared to provide the commissioners with an update tomorrow,” the statement continued.
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 law.
Schuster’s lawyer, Joshua Garick of Reading, claims this change could reduce payouts by $85,440 each day, translating to $30 million in additional profits each year.
Michael Weaver, a spokesman for Wynn Resorts, told the Herald Wednesday that Encore representatives “will be there at the meeting.”
Earlier this week, the Las Vegas casino operator said of the lawsuit: “Since opening, Encore Boston Harbor follows the Massachusetts Gaming Commission regulations for blackjack payouts.”
Paul DeBole, a casino expert and Lasell College professor, said the commission will be closely following the ongoing litigation.
“The commission were put on notice about this lawsuit, and while it might be an ongoing case in the court system,” DeBole told the Herald, “they’ll want to address this at the next public meeting, rather than later, because it’s their obligation as watchdogs over the industry to ensure gaming integrity at Massachusetts casinos.”