Blackjack Player Suing Colorado Casino for Detaining Him for Allegedly Counting Cards

  • Joseph Shiraef played at Ameristar Black Hawk Casino during flight layover
  • He was asked to show ID multiple times and refused on the final instance
  • A Colorado Gaming Commission agent stopped him when he tried to leave
  • The agent said Shiraef was suspected of illegal acts, including counting cards
Blackjack table
A Georgia man is suing Ameristar Black Hawk Casino, its owner, and law enforcement officers for detaining him for allegedly counting cards in a blackjack session. [Image:]

A Georgia man on a layover in Colorado in 2021 decided to pass the time at Ameristar Black Hawk Casino, but later nearly found himself under arrest for allegedly counting cards. Now he has a lawsuit in process as he seeks a total of $3m in damages.

According to the complaint, Joseph Shiraef visited the casino on October 19, 2021 and proceeded to play blackjack. Down $4,000, a manager asked to see his identification, despite him already having provided it on multiple occasions. When the manager wanted to take it to “check something,” Shiraef refused, and the manager said he couldn’t cash out his remaining $1,800 unless he did.

Needing to get back to the Denver airport, he opted to leave and deal with the $1,800 another time. When he tried to exit the parking lot, he was stopped by Joseph Nguyen, a Colorado Gaming Commission agent, who also asked for his ID. Shiraef decided to call the police to see if they could help him out and Patrol Sgt. Stephanie Whitman arrived on scene.

told Shiraef that he was suspected on “the possibility of fraud acts”

Whitman advised Shiraef to give his ID to Nguyen. Nguyen then told Shiraef that he was suspected on “the possibility of fraud acts,” which included “cheating or counting cards,” and could possibly be arrested.

The lawsuit states that Shiraef did absolute nothing wrong and did not cheat. It does not appear that he admitted to card counting, but that doesn’t matter, as that is not illegal. Daniel Carr, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Revenue, confirmed with The Denver Post that just using your brain to count cards is not against the law, though casinos do have the right to ask a player to leave if they are too good.

Nguyen allegedly falsely said card counting is “a form of fraudulent activity in the state of Colorado.” Shiraef was eventually allowed to leave, but is suing for the violation of his civil rights.

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