No Court Decision Yet On Alleged Atlantic City Casino Hotel Price-Fixing Scheme

Written By David Danzis on June 7, 2024
Image of a US courthouse for a story on a Nevada ruling might affect a New Jersey lawsuit against Atlantic City casinos.

A civil lawsuit against a group of Atlantic City casinos accused of artificially inflating hotel room prices could be adjudicated soon now that a similar case in Nevada has been dismissed.

Last month, a US District Court judge in Las Vegas tossed out a proposed class action against several casino hotel operators alleged to have shared price information through a third-party platform to charge higher room rental rates.

The Nevada case is comparable to a class action suit currently before a US District Court in New Jersey, where Judge Karen Williams previously agreed to merge three separate complaints into one. While there is no set timeline for the case, known as Altman et al. v. Caesars Entertainment, Inc. et al., Williams is expected to issue a ruling in the next several weeks.

Alleged Atlantic City casino collusion goes back years

According to court documents, the plaintiffs allege a handful of casino hotel operators and an online room booking platform “conspired” to charge more using a shared price-fixing algorithm. The price-fixing scheme dates back to 2018, the complaint says.

The NJ suit names Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, Hard Rock International and their Atlantic City casino properties as co-defendants, including Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Atlantic City, Tropicana Atlantic City, Borgata Atlantic City and Hard Rock Atlantic City.

Bally’s Atlantic City, a Caesars Entertainment-run property until 2020, is also cited. However, the Boardwalk casino is not a named defendant and its new owners are not implicated in the filing.

Additionally, the New Jersey class action names Cendyn Group, a Florida-based hospitality technology company providing room-booking software to hotel operators.

According to publicly available industry financial data, the Atlantic City casinos named in the class action have controlled between 72% and 80% of the market since June 2018. Hard Rock and Ocean Casino Resort (not named in any complaints) both opened on June 27, 2018.

The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory and triple damages under federal antitrust laws and a jury trial.

Anti-trust laws at center of price-fixing allegations against AC casinos

The Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest, essentially tacit support for the plaintiffs.

The FTC and DOJ issued a joint statement arguing the casino hotel companies may have broken antitrust laws. The statement says the casino companies need not have directly communicated to have acted in collusion. They could still have violated federal law if they used an algorithm jointly to set a starting price for hotel rooms or packages at their resorts.

Chief US District Court Judge Miranda Du dismissed the Nevada/Las Vegas casino lawsuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs had not clearly demonstrated that the hotels agreed to fix prices.

Photo by Shutterstock
David Danzis Avatar
Written by
David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

View all posts by David Danzis
Privacy Policy