Missouri Outlaws Casino Barring of Card Counters
New Missouri Law Prohibits Barring for Counting CardsBy Robert A. Loeb, Attorney at Law
(From Blackjack Forum XX #2, Summer 2000)
© Blackjack Forum 2000
A new Missouri rule prohibits barring for counting cards. Under this new rule, the Missouri Gaming Commission will specifically allow certain countermeasures by the casinos to try to minimize the advantage counters can get. The new rule has been adopted, and I am informed by the MGC that it goes into effect on August 30.
While there is nothing revolutionary about the new policy, I think that serious players may be interested in seeing the fine points of the new rule as it concerns Missouri casinos, as well as seeing the regulatory approach to governing casinos. What follows is the text of the new rule. I have added the underlining, to highlight certain portions that I will discuss.
The Text of the New Missouri Law
Discussion of the New Missouri Law Regarding Barring for Card Counting
The first point that needs to be made is that Missouri is to be commended for even attempting to make an official rule governing barring and what countermeasures are to be authorized. Most state laws do not specifically cover these areas, leaving casinos free to make their own policies without governmental regulation. By way of background, it should also be noted that this rule is an amendment to Missouri’s existing regulatory scheme.
Some of the references in this rule are to other sections of existing law. For instance, existing law already allows for barring, and one of the grounds for barring is when someone is caught cheating. Thus, the language in this rule basically says that card counting is not cheating.
This eliminates card counting as a basis for barring in other sections of the law. The word "cheating" appears in other parts of the statutes as well, including criminal offenses; it is confusing that the anti-barring rule should be based on the word "cheating" because card counting was never considered by Missouri to be criminal cheating.
In any event, this is how Missouri precludes barring for card counters. The phrase "without the assistance of another person" is also important. Under this regulation, if one is deemed to be counting cards with the assistance of another person, both people can be barred.
Realistically, there is no due process; in other words, if a casino arbitrarily decides that two people are counting cards together, or signaling each other in some way, both people can be barred, with little recourse to "appeal" the casino’s actions. In conversations with officials with the Missouri Gaming Commission and officials in other states, I have learned that these regulators truly believe that team play (at the tables, as opposed to merely sharing a bankroll) should be considered improper.
The underlined phrase "licensee may implement any of the following options" begins the list of countermeasures which the casino may take in response to card counters. This suggests, and Missouri officials confirm, that these are the authorized countermeasures, and that other countermeasures should not be implemented.
The Missouri Law Implies No Preferential Shuffling, or Flat Betting or Half-Shoeing a Player
Accordingly, Missouri is allowing a casino to prohibit mid-shoe entry, to impose minimum table bets only on mid-shoe entry, to use a Bart Carter shuffle, and to use a double shoe. By inference, Missouri is not allowing preferential shuffling, flat betting, "half-shoes" or other movement of the cut card, or discriminatory restrictions on a single player at a table (all of which are allowed by New Jersey).
I am curious to see how often Missouri invokes these countermeasures after August 30, particularly the use of a double shoe. Regardless of how clear and fair these new regulations are (or are not), I think that Missouri is to be commended for taking a lead among the states by attempting to make the law clear for both players and casinos, and for attempting to treat all players in a uniform and non-discriminatory way.
It is interesting to note that nine days after running an article about Missouri allowing card counting and prohibiting barring, the Kansas City Star ran an article entitled, "Card Counters Facing New Foe — Innovative Automatic Shuffling Machine Tilts the Odds Back to the Casinos’ Favor." This article tells about Shuffle Master’s latest continuous shuffle machine. We’ll have to see how the future plays out.
Abuse of Casino Comp Card Information
There have been a few reports of casinos inexplicably providing player’s card information to outsiders. It’s inexplicable to me because casinos have no interest in sharing this information with others, and they have no interest in making their customers angry at the release of their personal information. Here’s what’s happened.
Casinos maintain computerized information of their customers who use player’s cards. That information will typically include name, address, date of birth, and the record of the person’s play each time he visits the casino. This will include how long he played and at what games, average bet, the time of day he played, and total wins and losses.
Usually, this information remains with the casino, and is not given out except perhaps to other casinos which are part of the same company. The casino is also required to obey subpoenas and court orders, so the player’s card information will be given out in response to a subpoena, such as in criminal (grand jury) investigations, or often in disputed divorce cases.
I have learned of three reports in which player’s card information has been released without a subpoena or court order. In two cases, it involved employers checking up on employees to see if they were gambling when they were supposed to be at work. The third instance was a private individual who was just checking up on a "friend’s" gambling habits.
I don’t expect this to become a trend. In at least one of the three instances, the casino executive stated that the release of the information was contrary to casino policy. The casino industry cannot desire to release this information to outside entities. However, it is worthwhile for serious and recreational players alike to be on their toes and be aware that there is no guarantee that your personal information will be kept confidential within the casino. ♠
For more information of laws and lawsuits that affect card counters and other professional gamblers, as well as info on how to protect your rights as a player, see Beat the Players: Casinos, Cops And the Game Inside the Game, by Bob Nersesian. Also see Bob Loeb's excellent Blackjack and the Law.
Bob Nersesian is the attorney who won James Grosjean's lawsuit against Caesars, Imperial Palace, and the Griffin Agency, as well as a number of other lawsuits on behalf of professional gamblers whose rights were abused by casinos.
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Barring of Players for Blackjack Card Counting and the LawUnder a new law in Missouri, casinos there can no longer bar or "trespass" players for blackjack card counting. Bob Loeb explains the ramifications of the new law to card counters.