Supreme Court Upholds Casino Ban On $65,000 Winning Blackjack PlayerOctober 1, 2010 9:26 am
A player who won $65,000 over a 7 year period playing blackjack at the Grand Victoria Casino on the Ohio River has had his ban upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Tom Donovan became adept at card counting after completing an online course and was able to put his skill to work at the casino before his antics were discovered and he was subsequently banned in 2006.
Fighting his cause ever since, Donovan successfully argued his case at the state appeals court before the casino took the matter onto Indiana’s high court.
The signs were originally looking good for the card counter with Justice Frank Sullivan Jr stating:
“Your casino could offer only games where nothing but pure chance governs, the slot machines, dice and the like but your casino offers games where skill can be a factor, like blackjack and poker, in an effort to attract customers who think they have the requisite skill to win.”
“But once you identify a customer who has the requisite skill to win, you pull the rug out from under them and say ‘Sorry you can’t play.”
However, Thursday’s ruling has scuppered Donovan’s hopes after the Indiana Supreme Court returned a 3-1 decision upholding the casino’s rights to ban the player. The court assessed Donovan’s card counting skills as irrelevant to the case and instead upheld the casino’s right to exclude whomever they liked.
“An owner of an Indiana business has long had the absolute right to exclude a visitor or customer, subject only to applicable civil rights laws. This long-standing common law right of private property owners extends to the operator of a riverboat casino… ” stated the court.
For a while Donovan’s case gave hope to card counters across the country who were rooting for a favourable decision to consolidate their argument for the casino rewarding skill over luck.