A Nevada Attorney on the Casino Backroom and Players' Rights
Nevada Attorney Interviewed: Do Casinos Have the Right to "Back Room" You?By Arnold Snyder
(From Blackjack Forum VI #3, September 1986)
© Blackjack Forum 1986
[Andrew Blumen is a Las Vegas attorney who specializes in representing professional gamblers vs. casinos. With so many reports in the past few years in these pages of honest blackjack players being backroomed, harassed, arrested and even physically beaten in casinos, many card counters have requested advice on their legal rights and how to avoid such incidents. Mr. Blumen agreed to a phone interview regarding these matters. This is a transcript of our taped conversation. --Arnold Snyder]
Arnold Snyder: Does a player have to go to the "back room" when a security guard asks him to?
Andrew Blumen: In the State of Nevada there is a statute which allows a casino through its security guards to detain a player for a reasonable time if they believe that player has committed a felony. The operative words here are: "Has a felony been committed?" If you're just a card counter and you've committed no crime, then there's no statute which authorizes the casino to detain you or to take you into a back room. So, the answer to the question is, no, you do not have to go to the back room.
Snyder What should a player do if he's asked to go to the back room by a security guard for identification or any other reason?
Blumen: Ask immediately, "Am I under arrest, or suspected of a felony?" If they say yes, ask what the felony is, and request for Metro (Las Vegas Police) to be called immediately. If the answer is no, then you should inform the security guard that he has no right to take you into the backroom, and that if they don't want you on the premises you'll leave. The security guard can read you the trespass act walking you to the door as easily as he can in the back room. So it all depends on whether or not they're going to allege that you've committed a felony.
Snyder: What if they say, "Yes, we believe you've committed a felony," and they take you into the backroom.
Blumen: Force them to call Metro, because if they have nothing to go on, they're not going to do that, and they'll let you go. If they do detain you without any proof, you've got a good lawsuit.
Snyder: Would the casino be breaking the law at this point?
Blumen: There is no hard and fast statute that says this, but this is what we have sued on many times. Of course, the juries have come back with various decisions. They have found in our favor at times and they have found against us at times. Each individual person has to evaluate their background. If you've been arrested many times in the past, then you might consider going along with them, because your lawsuit would pale in the eyes of a jury. Legally, the casino does not have a right to detain you if they do not suspect you've committed a felony.
Snyder: Does a player have to provide identification or any other information to a casino security guard?
Blumen: No, unless he's suspected of a felony. And in that case he still doesn't have to provide any information to the security guard. But my suggestion would be that after the player has requested to have Metro called, he should ask to make a phone call — and call his lawyer — and then he should give his name - his true name - and say, "I'm saying nothing else until the police come." When the police come, he should say nothing except, "I want to speak to my lawyer."
Snyder: Do you have to give your name?
Blumen: Give your true name because if you give a false name to a police officer they will probably arrest you for obstructing a police officer. It's possible that if you give a false name to a security guard, and he transmits it to the police officer, you could have some problems. But the security guard is nothing more than an employee of the casino. They have no right to demand any identification from you, save and except if they believe you're under the age of 21. In which case you should say, "I have no identification. I will leave."
They can't force you to give l.D. Every 21 player -- and I firmly believe this, not because I'm a lawyer -- every blackjack player who plays in Las Vegas, Reno, or Atlantic City, should have a name and telephone number of his lawyer, and should have made arrangements so that if they are back-roomed, that lawyer will come to their aid. Because that will deter a lot of the conduct that the casinos might do.
Snyder: What's the best single piece of advice f or a player who wants to protect his rights in a casino?
Blumen: In Nevada, a player doesn't have a whole lot of rights. By that I mean that a casino has the right to ask any player to leave. You do not have a right to play blackjack in Nevada. In Atlantic City, you have that right. They cannot ask you to leave just because you're a card counter.
The rights you do have as a player in the state of Nevada are our constitutional rights. They're pretty much covered in what I've already discussed. They cannot detain you without suspicion you've done a criminal act. They cannot force you to have your photograph taken. They cannot force you to present l.D. or any other information.
They can read you the Nevada trespass act. If they do read that to you, and you go back on the premises you'll be guilty of misdemeanor trespass. Other than that, you have all the rights you'd have in any other place. If the casino violates those rights, you have recourse through the court system.
Snyder: Let's say a player is from out of town and does not have an attorney in Nevada. If he finds himself in a position where he is back-roomed, and he is afraid his rights may be violated, is there a quick and easy way to come up with an attorney?
Blumen: In all honesty, probably not, and I'll tell you why. If I'm going to get a call at midnight from somebody, asking me to come down to a casino, I'm going to want to be retained. I would suggest a daytime phone call on arriving in town, indicating to an attorney that, "Look, I hope I don't need you, but if I do, will you be available?" The attorney can then say, "Yes, I'll be available, and this is what it will cost you if I have to come."
If somebody I don't know just calls me at 2 a.m., what I'm going to tell him is, "Look, don't say anything. When they get done, call me tomorrow morning." I'm not going to rush down to the casino like I would for my clients. . . I have a whole list of people who could call me anytime, day or night, and I would go to them, without advance money, because they've been clients for a long time.
Snyder: Is there a list of attorneys available in the various gambling areas who are known to represent players who have problems in casinos?
Blumen: I only know two who specialize in this in Las Vegas -- myself and Les Combs. [Note from Arnold Snyder: Since the time of this interview, Bob Nersesian has become an attorney who specializes in the rights of professional gamblers. Nersesian is the attorney who beat Caesars, the Griffin Agency, and the Imperial Palace in the James Grosjean lawsuit. See: Interview with Bob Nersesian. Bob has become the go-to attorney in Las Vegas for most professional gamblers I know.]
I know of none I could recommend in Reno who specialize in it. My number is in the phone book, my home number. I don't get many 2 a.m. calls, but I don't mind that - or, I should say, I feel it's part of the deal. I do criminal work and these things happen.
Snyder: So you think a player should try to make contact with an attorney in the areas where he gambles prior to having any trouble?
Blumen: I certainly think so, if for no other reason than for name recognition. I'll take 5 minutes out of my time to talk if I'm available. I don't expect to take 20 minutes and be pumped. A lawyer only has one thing to sell and that's his time. I can't have every counter calling me and asking me, " Can I do this, and can I do this, this, this and this?" But a simple call of, "Look, I'm here to play for a few days. If I have any problems can I call you?" No problem.
Snyder: Thanks, Andy. You'll probably get a lot of calls! ♠
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