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The most famous gambling lawsuits of all time

Walk by a blackjack table on a nice Friday night, and you will be marveled by the amount of money some gamblers are willing to bet on a single deck of cards. Hundreds of dollars may seem like a huge amount to you, but to some high rollers and big gamblers, it is just small change. Generally speaking, gamblers continue to participate in gambling activities even after knowing full well that the odds are stacked against them.

In some cases though, the house does not always win- especially as far as gambling lawsuits are concerned. From time to time, relationships between the gambler and the venue are put under strain. Lawsuits cause big headaches for casinos but for some customers, a controversial court case with millions of dollars at risk could just be the ticket they need to live large.

The gambling industry has had its fair share of gambling lawsuits over time. These high profile cases tend to attract a lot of attention from the populace, particularly because of the hefty sums of cash involved. To with some of these court cases, here are the most famous gambling lawsuits of all time:

Arelia Margarita Taveras vs Atlantic City casinos

Arelia’s story may not be a happy one, but it serves as a warning for any individuals that intend to try their luck at gambling. Arelia used to be a great successful lawyer out in New York, where she would take home an annual income of about 500,000 dollars.

As a highly successful lawyer, Arelia’s workweek would often be swamped, leaving her with little time to unwind. As such, she would often head out to Atlantic City to take a load off. Within 2 years of starting her gambling habit, she had already lost almost 850,000 dollars. This once straightforward way to relax had turned into an addiction. 

By 2005, Arelia was living day in day out in a casino and she was surviving on nothing but candy and orange juice, which was usually given to her by the casino staff members. At one time, her addiction had escalated so much that she would often pass out on the floor, losing more than $5,000 per hour. As a result, she lost her apartment, her job, and even her parent’s house.

To mitigate the effects of her gambling, she launched a lawsuit against all the Atlantic City casinos that she would frequent for allowing her to continue to gamble despite knowing that she was an addict. As a former lawyer, she tried everything in the book to get the law to her side to no avail. 

The New Jersey courts in charge of her case ruled that the casinos could not be held responsible for her downfall as long as the casinos and their executives were obeying the rules mandated by state law.

Ken Uston vs. Resorts International

If you are a lover of Blackjack, then it is likely that you have stumbled upon the Ken Uston versus Resorts International lawsuit. Uston was one of the most legendary names in blackjack circles. He was celebrated for being a high staked pro and an intrepid supporter of the gambler’s right to beat the house at its own game.

He often worked as a spotter, helping blackjack legend Al Francesco and his team to win big. He created a strategy known as the big player strategy that involved card counting to get a favorable outcome. Eventually, Uston left Al’s team to form his card counting team in Atlantic City, which was banned before long from all casinos in New Jersey.

As a result, he filed a lawsuit in 1979 after being refused entry into the Resorts International Hotel. Uston argued that the casino did not have the right to refuse admittance simply because he was a great gambler. The case made it to the New Jersey Supreme Court, where he won. 

According to Kate Huber, chief editor at NJGamblingFun, ‘’ we all love a comeback story, which is why Uston’s case was so remarkable. The fact that he beat the odds in such a legendary court case is proof that you should never give up- even when the house has an apparent edge.’’

Phil Ivey vs Crockfords and the Borgata

In 2012, poker prodigy Phil Ivey transferred cash to the tune of £1 million and $3 million to Crockfords and Borgata casinos, in that order. In a visit that lasted 2 days to Crawfords in London, Ivey managed to earn more than $10 million playing Punto Banco, a type of baccarat. He also earned the same amount during his 4 trips to Borgata casino playing baccarat.

As baccarat is a game of chance and not skill, Crockfords Casino withheld his 10 million dollar winnings. As a result, Ivey turned to the courts to sue the casino for his stake. Unfortunately, though, his case was rejected by the UK Supreme Court because it claimed that Ivey, alongside his accomplice Yin Sun interfered with the running of the game. 

Following this ruling, the Borgata casino in America revisited the $10.1 million that he and his companion Sun had already won at the casino back in 2012. The Borgata claimed that Ivey had utilized edge sorting to gain a competitive edge over the casino, just as he had in Crockfords. Following lengthy proceedings, the Borgata also won against Ivey.

Final Thoughts

Given the nature of gambling, it can throw several surprises; lawsuits are typically one of them. Since casinos are still businesses, they are no strangers to lawsuits. Casinos may have the edge in their establishments, but this is not always the case when it comes to the courtroom. 

Some gamblers that have established solid cases against casinos have been able to win and walk away with winnings. However, for most, their lawsuits aren’t always so successful. In some cases, some disputes never see the light of the courtroom, as all parties involved are usually able to settle their disagreements amicably.

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