On April 30, 2012, 14 players enjoyed games of mini-baccarat at the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City, and won over $1.5 million over the course of several hands. As a result of the staggering and consistent winnings, casino personnel surrounded the table, led away the players on suspicion of cheating and shut down the game. The investigation revealed that the players had done nothing wrong – a casino vendor had. The cards were never shuffled before they came out of the shoe.
The cards used in the game, a “Gem Pack” of 8 decks from Gemaco Inc. were never shuffled before leaving the vendor. The decks were supposed to be pre-shuffled upon packaging and shipment. The unshuffled decks made their way into the shoe on the mini-baccarat table without anyone noticing. Once the players realized that the cards were arriving in the same series in each deck, they played accordingly.
A series of lawsuits followed, including the Golden Nugget suing Gemaco and the players. Last week, Superior Court Judge Donna Taylor granted the Golden Nugget’s motion for summary judgment against the players under the reasoning that, under New Jersey state law, decks in mini-baccarat must be shuffled before the game can begin. Since the decks in this case were not shuffled, the game was not legal, and both sides should be restored to the same financial position as before the game began. In other words, the players must return their winnings, and Golden Nugget escaped a large payday. (Golden Nugget settled their lawsuit with Gemaco last year).