Barring players for card counting is no longer an option for casinos in Missouri because of a new law, explains Bob Loeb.
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New Missouri Law Prohibits Barring for Counting Cards

By 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

Title 11 — DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY Division 45 - Missouri Gaming Commission Chapter 5 - Conduct of Gaming 11 CSR 45-5.051 - Minimum Standards for Twenty-One (Blackjack).

(1) The following words and terms, when used in this rule, shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(A) "Bart Carter shuffle" means the shuffling procedure whereby approximately one deck of cards is shuffled after being dealt, segregated into separate stacks and each stack is inserted into pre marked locations within the remaining decks contained in the dealing shoe.

(B) "Determinant card" means the first card drawn for each round of play to determine from which side of the two compartment dealing shoe the cards for that hand shall be dealt.

(C) "Double shoe" means a dealing shoe that has two adjacent compartments in which cards are stacked separately and which permits cards to be dealt from only one compartment at any given time.

(2) A person who, without the assistance of another person or without the use of a physical aid or device of any kind, uses the ability to keep track of the value of cards played in blackjack ("21") and uses predictions formed as a result of the tracking information in her/her playing and betting strategy shall not be considered to be cheating.

(3) A class A licensee may implement any of the following options at a Twenty-One table provided that the casino licensee complied with the notice requirements contained in 11 CSR 45- 5.060:

(A) Persons who have not made a wager on the first round of play may not enter the game on a subsequent round of play until a reshuffle of the cards has occurred;

(B) (Persons who have not made a wager on the first round of play may be permitted to enter the game, but may be limited to wagering only the minimum limit posted at the table until a reshuffle of the cards has occurred;

(C) Persons who, after making wager on a given round of play, decline to wager on any subsequent round of play may be precluded from placing any further wagers until a reshuffle of the cards has occurred; and

(D) (Persons who, after making a wager on a given round of play, decline to wager on any subsequent round of play my be permitted to place further wagers, but may be limited to wagering only the minimum limit posed at the table until a reshuffle of the cards has occurred.

(E) Use of double shoe with a determinate card that selected which shoe to deal from during a particular hand.

(4) If a class A licensee implements any of the options in (3) of this rule, the option shall be uniformly applied to all persons at the table; provided, however that if a class A licensee has implemented either of the options in (3)(C) or (D) of this rule, an exception may be made for a patron who temporarily leaves the table if, at the time the patron leaves, the class A licensee agrees to reserve the patron’s spot until his or her return.

(5) Immediately prior to the commencement of play and after any shuffle of the cards, the dealer shall require that the cards be cut in a manner set forth in the class A licensee’s internal controls as approved by the Commission. Such internal controls shall be subject to the following conditions:

(A) If the "Bart Carter Shuffle" is utilized and the cards in the discard rack exceed approximately one deck in number, the dealer shall continue dealing the cards until that round of play is completed after which he shall remove the cards from the discard rack and shuffle those cards so that they are randomly intermixed. After the cards taken from the discard rack are shuffled, they shall be split into three separate stacks and each stack shall be inserted into premarked locations within the remaining decks contained in the dealing shoe.

(6) After the cards have been cut and before any cards have been dealt, a floor supervisor may required the cards to be recut if he or she determines that the cut was performed improperly or in any way that might affect the integrity or fairness of the game. If a recut is required, the cards shall be recut, at the class A licensee’s option, by the player who last cut the cards, or by the next person entitled to cut the cards, as determined by the class A licensee’s internal controls.

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 Law

Under 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.