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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Borgata Counterfeit Chip fiasco breeds class-action lawsuit

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Jennifer Bogdan of the The Press of Atlantic City reported over the weekend that the counterfeit chip scandal in Event #1: $560 No-Limit Hold’em at the Borgata Winter Poker Open initiated a class-action lawsuit that was filed on behalf of more than 4,000 people.

The lawsuit filed in Atlantic County Superior Court alleges “fraud and negligence on the part of Borgata and accuses the casino of failing to properly supervise the event.” Jacob Musterel of Egg Harbor Township and his attorney, Bruce LiCausi, filed the suit and are asking for refunds for players’ buy-ins and entry fees, as well as reimbursement for “incidental damages” (e.g. travel costs), are the claims for relief in the suit.

“In my 31 years in practice, I have to say this is one of the cleanest claims we’ve had,” LiCausi said. “Borgata holds itself as a respected provider of poker tournaments. They might say this is a learning experience for them, and while that’s laudable, it’s at the expense of the thousands who traveled to Atlantic City and entered this tournament under the expectation that it would be run properly.”

LiCausi appears to believe his clients have a strong case against The Borgata but's contributor and East Coast-based attorney Maurice “Mac” VerStandig penned a column where he pointed out the holes in such a lawsuit.

"Since no one is claiming the Borgata to have been in cahoots with Mr. Lusardi, this is not a suit against a person or entity clothed in the fabric of malice or self gain," VerStandig explained. "This is, rather, a claim of legal sloppiness — a suggestion that the Borgata had a duty to put on an honest tournament, and failed to carry out that duty. The suggestion of fraud strikes me as puzzling."

Read VerStandig's full opinion on the lawsuit here.

Counterfeit chips were discovered last month during the Borgata Winter Open $2 Million Guarantee event and eventually forced the cancellation of the event with 27 players remaining. The remainder of the unpaid prize pool was frozen by the Division of Gaming Enforcement. Christian Lusardi was arrested after counterfeit chips were found to be the reason for clogged pipes in guest's rooms at nearby Harrah’s. Lusardi is currently in jail and was also charged with DVD copyright infringement; his bail was set at $300,000.

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