Judge reinstates $1.5M unshuffled cards lawsuit

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A case pitting a casino against gamblers who won $1.5 million in a game with unshuffled card decks may be heading toward trial.

In April 2012, 14 mini-baccarat players racked up the winnings over 41 straight hands when they realized the cards hadn’t been shuffled and were coming out in a specific pattern. Many of them quickly upped their bets from $10 a hand to $5,000.

The Golden Nugget casino doesn’t want to pay them, and it wants to collect more than $500,000 it already paid.

In June, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge James Isman ruled that the game was illegal under state casino regulations and said the casino didn’t have to pay.

Isman recently retired, and on July 25 a different judge granted a motion to reconsider the decision. Judge Allen Littlefield said that the gamblers can continue the discovery process and argue their case at trial this fall.

Lawyers for the casino said that it is shocked that Isman’s rulings were overturned and will appeal.

Mark Pfeffer, who represents defendant Nguyen Le, said that it’s up to state gambling regulators to rule on whether the game is legal. Gambling regulators are among the possible witnesses who would be deposed before trial.

The casino sued the 14 gamblers for the return of money paid out and seeking to be absolved of having to redeem the outstanding chips.

A preliminary court ruling two years ago went against the casino, which said it would appeal. Hours later, the casino’s owner overrode his lawyers and said it would pay the remainder of the disputed winnings. But that deal fell apart days later when some of the gamblers refused to dismiss their own claims against the Golden Nugget.

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