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Indiana Appellate Court Rules in Favor of Thomas Donovan in Blackjack Case

A gambler from Indiana cannot be blocked from a riverboat's casino blackjack table for using card counting, the state Court of Appeals ruled on November 4th, 2009. Thomas Donovan played at the Grand Victoria Casino and Resort, located on a casino riverboat in Rising Sun, Indiana.

He supplemented his income with winnings from blackjack as an "advantage gamer," counting the cards that had been played in the game and adjusting his wagers accordingly. Donovan had an agreement with the casino facility that he could play blackjack and use card counting if he did not wager more than $25 per card hand.

But the new pit boss of the Grand Victoria Casino refused to honor that agreement and Donovan sued the casino facility for breach of contract. Donovan argued that since the gaming establishment catered to tourists, it could not block a customer single-handedly.

The facility argued that as a private organization, they could exclude anyone from entering as long they are not violating any civil rights law. The trial court decided in favor of the casino but the appellate court overturned the decision of the trial court, pointing to the rule-making power of the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Judge Bailey said that the commission did not enact any prohibition against counting cards and the Grand Victoria casino did not seek for any prohibition by rule amendment. The court concluded that the casino may not exclude anyone including Donovan from playing blackjack because he uses card counting.


Thursday, November 26 , 2009
Kim Watson