Last Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved fines totaling to a whopping $95,000 against the owner and operator of the Philadelphia-based SugarHouse Casino. According to the gaming control board, the casino had violated the state’s gaming regulations by dealing cards to patrons using “illegitimate” decks – the violations include a series of incidents in 2017 in which the decks of cards that customers were dealt were compromised by malfunctioning automatic shufflers.
SugarHouse Casino officials admitted that its employees had failed to properly address the warning lights on the automated shufflers that were being used at poker, mini-baccarat and blackjack tables in seven different instances between May 2017 and January this year. Moreover, in some of these incidents, the dealers used decks of cards that had too many cards or too few of them – in one of the poker tournaments that the regulatory violations were recorded for, the cards that were used were sorted sequentially instead of being randomly shuffled.
In sort mode, the device read the cards and put them back in sequential and suited order which implies that each of the 16 hands that players were dealt was played with completely unshuffled cards.
“None of the patrons were eliminated from the tournament during the time the 16 improper hands were dealt,” said a July consent agreement and stipulation of settlement. “The investigation did not identify and did not determine the win/loss record for the patrons during the time the integrity of the poker game was affected.”
From the results of the investigations that were carried out before the gaming control board issued the fine during the October 3 meeting, there was no collusion and the incidents that occurred involved different supervisors, dealers, and games. According to John M. Donnelly, two of the supervisors who were party to the regulatory violations have since been let go, with one of them later being reinstated on appeal.
Cyrus Pitre, the director of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s office of enforcement counsel, the causes of the regulatory violations mostly seem to revolve around boredom and carelessness. He cited there was some form of “complacency in regard with the red light going off on the shuffler” in a statement that was addressed to Chairman David M. Barasch.
That’s Not All
In another incident of regulatory violations, SugarHouse casino’s dealers deployed decks with too many cards for a Spanish 21 game, a misstep that caused them a $12,500 in fines. The casino said that their employees noticed that the 10s had not been removed from multiple decks after closes to 27 hands had been dealt. However, the players did not notice this, as it turns out. To ensure that such incidents would never occur again, the casino opted to discipline and retrain its employees. In addition to this, SugarHouse has directed its card vendor to supply special 48-card decks for Spanish 21 play.