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Encore Boston Harbor not cheating gamblers, regulator says

Updated July 18, 2019 - 10:35 pm

Investigation agents from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission believe Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s Encore Boston Harbor is in compliance with the commission’s payout rules and regulations.

The commission’s investigations and enforcement bureau began looking into the property after New York resident Richard Schuster filed a class action lawsuit Monday that accused the Everett property of cheating gamblers out of their winnings.

“At no time did we ever round and not give customers back the money that they truly deserved,” said Robert DeSalvio, president of Encore Boston Harbor, at Thursday morning’s commission meeting.

Payout odds

Schuster’s lawsuit claims he was paid at 6-5 odds when he should have been awarded 3-2 odds. Gaming agent division chief assistant director Bruce Band said the confusion over the state’s blackjack payout rules may stem from the commission’s website, which uses the term “6 to 5” in two different contexts.

The lawsuit references section 6A of the commission’s explanation of blackjack rules. This section references a particular type of blackjack that is different from the standard game and uses different dealing procedures. Band said this variation has never been offered at the Encore property.

Instead, the casino offers standard blackjack. Band said licensees are allowed to pay odds at 3-2 or 6-5, and nearly 35 percent of the tables at Encore have a 6-5 payout.

“The payout odds of a particular table are displayed on each table’s felt layout,” Band said.

Band said the 6-5 payout odds option is authorized at a number of other jurisdictions, including Nevada.

Nevada Gaming Control Board senior research analyst Michael Lawton said the Nevada State Legislature did not mandate specific payoffs for approved gambling games.

“(Patrons) may choose to gamble at the game and table of their choice,” he said.

Slot machine payouts

The lawsuit also alleges that Encore failed to refund slot credits in full at the ticket redemption machines on the casino floor, rounding down the dollar amount when the player cashes out. DeSalvio denied the claim.

“Every single customer gets every dollar and every penny that they have coming due to them,” he said. “Rounding is not part of the equation.”

Band said the agents found Encore does not use coins in its redemption machines. Players who redeem their tickets at a machine receive a full-dollar amount, as well as a ticket for the change. Those tickets can be redeemed either in slot machines or the ticket cage.

Band said signs explaining this process are now posted on machines on the casino floor.

Additionally, Band said all tickets not redeemed within one year are deposited into the commonwealth’s gaming revenue fund.

“In no way, shape or form does that money ever come back to Encore Boston Harbor,” DeSalvio said.

Schuster’s lawsuit, filed in the Middlesex County Superior Court, comes as the casino reported raking in nearly $17 million in gaming revenue in its first week open.

Wynn Resorts’ stock fell 1 percent Thursday morning, down $1.29 to $134.60 per share.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233 Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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