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Gambler’s claim of illegal dice must be investigated, court rules

Updated May 18, 2023 - 9:28 am

A New York court determined New Jersey regulators should investigate a gambler’s claim that dice used at Golden Nugget Atlantic City were altered in a way that could be cheating.

New Yorker Wayne Chan sued the Golden Nugget in a Newark federal court in September 2021 after he lost more than $469,125 playing craps in 2018 and 2019. The casino sought $200,000 that he owed but Chan argued that he didn’t have to pay it because the games were unfair.

Chan claimed the casino marked the dice with the table number and used non-transparent dice in violation of New Jersey laws. The player told the casino about his concerns but Golden Nugget counsel said scribing the dice was an “industry recognized practice of which the (Division of Gaming Enforcement) and every other regulatory agency” was aware, according to a January 2020 letter included in Chan’s complaint.

Dice are often closely regulated to avoid potential tampering or unfair play. In New Jersey, dice must be transparent and made exclusively of cellulose except for the spots, casino name and serial numbers, according to state law. Previous court cases have determined that the same marking allegations against another casino don’t violate state law.

Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta owns the New Jersey Golden Nugget, along with several others like the famed downtown Las Vegas location and one in Laughlin. He purchased six acres of real estate on the Strip last year to develop a 43-story hotel-casino on the site at Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue.

Chan submitted a patron complaint to New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement a day after the Golden Nugget’s lawyers responded to his concerns. But the agency did not intervene in the complaint and Chan was unsuccessful in his lawsuit, causing the casino to seek a summary judgment for Chan’s outstanding losses.

The appeals court in New York, however, ruled on April 27 that the lower court had been premature in granting that judgment and that results of a DGE investigation of the complaint should be considered first. It denied the summary judgment with the ability to renew upon a ruling from the DGE or after six months if the DGE failed to resolve the issue by then.

The DGE and lawyers for both parties did not respond to requests for comment.

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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