Published Tuesday, June 2, 2015 | 8:38 a.m.
Updated Tuesday, June 2, 2015 | 9:54 a.m.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Three gamblers from China including a woman known as the "Queen of Sorts" for her card-monitoring skills have lost a legal challenge to reclaim nearly $3 million in winnings and deposits they say were kept by Foxwoods Resort Casino based on false cheating allegations.
In a judgment entered Monday in federal court in New Haven, U.S. District Judge Janet Hall ruled the gamblers couldn't sue Foxwoods because the Connecticut casino's owner, the Mashantucket Pequots, has sovereign immunity as an American Indian tribe.
Chinese nationals Cheung Yin Sun of Las Vegas and Long Mei Fang and Zong Yang Li of Los Angeles said they went to Foxwoods in December 2011, deposited $1.6 million in "front money" to play mini baccarat and won just over $1.1 million.
The gamblers said they used a legal card-monitoring practice called edge-sorting that involves players being able to tell the difference between some cards because of imperfections on their non-playing sides.
When they went to collect their winnings and deposit, Foxwoods officials accused them of cheating and kept their winnings and deposit, the gamblers said. A tribal gaming commission official ruled that the gamblers violated Foxwoods' gaming regulations.
The gamblers then sued Foxwoods and several casino officials for at least $3 million, which included $100,000 in damages for each plaintiff for violating their civil rights.
The lawsuit said Foxwoods officials knew the three gamblers used the edge-sorting strategy before they arrived at the casino because their names were in reports by casino consultants who noted the three players had been beating Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos out of large sums of money. Cheung is known as the "Queen of Sorts" for being successful while using edge-sorting.
Lawyers for Foxwoods and the gamblers didn't immediately return messages Tuesday seeking comment.