October 4, 2010
Indiana Supreme Court says card counters can be banned from casinos
As detailed at the Indiana Law Blog
In a fractured, 3-1 decision, the state’s high court rejected the claims of an Indianapolis card counter who argued casinos shouldn’t be allowed to kick him out just because he’s skilled at playing blackjack.
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Indiana casinos have the right to kick out card counters and anyone else they don’t like, so long as it’s not discriminatory.
For those who are not familiar with the concept of “card counting,” blackjack card counters keep track in their mind of the cards that have already been played from the decks to be used in the game. When the remaining cards favor the player over the casino, a card counter increases the bet to try to boost his or her winnings.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in October 2009, that card counters have a right to play because casinos can only prohibit patrons according to the rules of the Indiana Gaming Commission. The state’s gaming regulatory agency does not specifically prohibit card counting.
The Indiana Supreme Court overruled the Coutr of Appeals and sided with Grand Victoria Casino, located in Rising Sun, Indiana, that casinos — like any business — have the right to exclude any visitor or customer so long as they do not discriminate against a minority group protected by law.
Justice Brent E. Dickson, dissented. He said casinos only exist in Indiana because state law and regulations have allowed them to exist and that casinos have no rights — such as the common law right of exclusion — beyond those specifically granted by the state.
“Permitting a casino to restrict its patrons only to those customers who lack the skill and ability to play such games well intrudes upon principles of fair and equal competition and provides unfair financial advantages and rewards to casino operators,” Dickson said. “I am not persuaded that such schemes are supported or protected by any common law right or privilege.”
Justice Robert D. Rucker, did not participate in the case.
The decision is Donovan v. Grand Victoria Casino