Encore Boston Harbor Cleared by Gaming Investigators After Blackjack Payout Lawsuit

• Lawsuit claimed Encore is cheating customers by paying 6 to 5 in some blackjack games
• Gaming Commission investigators said the casino has not violated any blackjack rules
• Allegations of intentional short-changing of slot payouts were also deemed unfounded

encore boston harbor casino
Massachusetts gaming investigators have determined that Encore Boston Harbor is following proper blackjack and slots payout regulations, following a July 15 lawsuit that claims the opposite.

Casino found to be compliant

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) has determined that the Encore Boston Harbor Casino did not violate any regulations.

The decision, made on Thursday, followed a preliminary investigation after a lawsuit alleged the casino was paying out blackjack at 6 to 5 at some tables, when it should be paying out at 3 to 2.

The lawsuit also claimed that the casino only pays whole dollar amounts and keeps any change not redeemed. The IEB found that the Encore engaged in no wrongdoing when paying players their slot winnings.

A lawsuit alleged that the casino was paying out blackjack at 6 to 5 at some tables, when it should be paying out at 3 to 2.

Schuster’s main allegation

The class-action lawsuit was filed on Monday last week by plaintiff A. Richard Schuster in Middlesex Superior Court against Encore Boston Harbor, Wynn MA, LLC, and Wynn Resorts, Ltd. Joshua Garick is Schuster’s attorney.

It claimed there are specific rules as to how a game that pays 6 to 5 on blackjack instead of 3 to 2 must be structured and dealt. It added that Encore Boston Harbor is not playing by those rules. The concern for the plaintiff and for Encore customers, from a strictly monetary standpoint, is that 6 to 5 is a worse payout than 3 to 2.

In sum, the plaintiff claimed that Encore is spreading 6 to 5 blackjack games while not following the Massachusetts regulations for those types of games.

In response to the allegations, the Commission laid out its blackjack regulations in a 41-page document.

Payout rules being followed

In its report, the IEB said there are “two different contexts” in which the term “6 to 5” is used. One refers to a distinct variation of blackjack, with different procedures for card dealing. The other has to do with the actual payouts on a blackjack hand.

Investigators said Encore does not have any 6 to 5 blackjack variation games running.

To the first point, investigators said Encore does not have any 6 to 5 blackjack variation games running. As for the second, they said that all blackjack games that pay 6 to 5 – about a third of Encore’s blackjack tables – have the payout rules clearly printed on the table, and are therefore in compliance with regulations.

Slot cashouts potentially confusing

At Encore Boston Harbor, as at most casinos today, a player receives a payout ticket when cashing out of a slot machine. The player then feeds that ticket into a separate payout machine, which dispenses cash to the customer. The machines only pay whole dollar amounts and give the customer a new ticket for the remaining change. Players must go to the cashier to redeem this second ticket.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that Encore intentionally rounds down the winnings and does not give instructions on how to redeem the remaining change. The casino allegedly keeps the unclaimed change.

The investigators found the casino’s slot cashout procedures to be in compliance with regulations. To further reduce confusion, Encore has put signs on redemption machines to remind customers that they do not dispense coins. Unclaimed slot winnings are not kept by Encore, but rather go to the state’s Gaming Revenue Fund.

After the Commission meeting, Encore Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio dismissed such allegations as “utterly false”, adding that:

Every customer gets every penny that they deserve at Encore Boston Harbor, and never would we engage in a practice that would actually keep any [of] our customers’ money.”

DeSalvio said the reason machines do not dispense coins is simply to make life easier for the casino’s employees, who would have to constantly refill the machines throughout the day. He added that Encore will consider installing some coin machines in the casino.