Las Vegas Sun

June 24, 2024

Gambler files lawsuit over card-counting system

A Los Angeles gambler says a computerized system used by casinos to monitor blackjack play can be manipulated to give casinos an unfair edge over players.

Gambler John Allen, an attorney, is the plaintiff in a suit filed Monday in Clark County District Court. The suit names as defendants the state Gaming Control Board; Eldorado LLC, which operates the Eldorado Hotel & Casino in Reno; and Bally Gaming Inc., which distributes MindPlay, a computerized system that enables casino operators to oversee their blackjack tables.

The suit was filed by Las Vegas attorney Robert Nersesian, who has handled several cases for gamblers against casinos.

The suit alleges theft, conspiracy and fraud in the Eldorado's use of the MindPlay system. The filing says the Eldorado used the system to determine when the outcome of the game would be unfavorable to the casino and then reshuffled the deck.

According to the suit, "the MindPlay device had informed the casino that the deck or shoe had become favorable to the plaintiff and unfavorable for the Eldorado."

"The shuffle decision was directed and decided by the MindPlay device while the plaintiff was playing," the suit says. "In this sense, Eldorado and its dealer used a computer device to assist in projecting the outcome of the game, in keeping track of the cards played and in analyzing the probability of the occurrences of an event relating to the game."

Representatives of the Eldorado and Bally Gaming could not be reached for comment. State Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said this morning that he had not seen the suit and would not comment until reviewing it.

Nevada gaming statutes say it is unlawful for any person at a licensed gaming establishment to use any device to assist in projecting the outcome of the game, keeping track of cards played, analyzing probability or strategy for playing or betting, except as permitted by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

The lawsuit contends that Eldorado, Bally Gaming and MindPlay are "persons" under the law.

MindPlay has been marketed by Bally Gaming as a system that gives pit bosses a real-time snapshot of the game by tracking wagers as well as each card dealt and played. The software works with optical scanning devices set into the table as well as coded playing cards.

The software can alert casinos to potential card counting by identifying betting patterns, a strategy that has drawn some fire from professional blackjack players.

Bally Gaming officials have said the technology can benefit players by helping casinos more accurately track wagers -- information that is used to grant complimentary incentives to gamblers.

The suit asks that the court issue a judgment against Eldorado and Bally Gaming for real and punitive damages and that it issue a writ that the members of the Gaming Control Board enforce its statutes on unlawful devices against the Eldorado and force the casino from using MindPlay.

The suit also seeks a declaration that MindPlay is an illegal device.