A poker pro is suing Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa over a lifetime ban for comments he made about suicide.
Scott Robbins, of Millbury, Massachusetts, says he was just joking with Borgata employees when he mentioned jumping out his hotel room window in September 2019.
But, the quip caught the attention of casino security who took Robbins to a hospital for a physicological evaluation. When Robbins returned to the casino with a clean bill of mental health, his belongings were packed up and he was told never to return, his lawsuit alleges.
Robbins is seeking $1.25 million in damages from Borgata. The 28-count complaint includes claims of false imprisonment, defamation, and civil rights violations.
The complaint was filed June 4 in Atlantic County (N.J.) Superior Court. Last week, Borgata corporate counsel prevailed in its motion to have the matter heard in U.S. District Court.
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Waiting to hear the other side from Borgata
Neither Borgata nor its parent company, MGM Resorts International, has publicly commented on the pending litigation.
New Jersey Law Journal reported that Robbins’ attorney, Frederic Goetz, described Borgata’s actions against his client as “arbitrary and capricious.”
“Big corporations can’t just treat people the way they want because they’re big corporations,” Goetz told NJLJ.
Jumping joke doesn’t land
Since Borgata has not officially responded to the claims, the following description of events is based solely on Robbins’ complaint.
While checking in to Borgata on Sept. 14, 2019, for a poker tournament, Robbins was asked by the desk clerk if he would like a room on a high floor or low floor.
He “jokingly responded, ‘If I had to jump from a high floor window [meaning, in case of fire or earthquake], would I make it?’” the complaint reads.
“The clerk responded with ‘NO, don’t do that.’
After insisting he wouldn’t jump, Robbins then asked, “Would I make it if I had to jump out of a lower floor?”
The clerk again responded with “NO, don’t do that.”
Robbins said clearly, “I won’t,” his lawsuit claims.
He then “laughingly” added, “But since I wouldn’t survive either, I guess it doesn’t matter what floor you give me.”
He was given a room on the 30th floor, which his complaint points out is “notably, not a low floor.”
Robbins goes for a ride
A short time later, Robbins was watching TV in his room and got a visit from armed security personal. They allegedly told Robbins he needed to pass a psychiatric evaluation to stay in the hotel.
He complied and boarded an ambulance to a local health facility.
After being deemed to not be a threat to himself or others, Robbins was released.
But even after passing his mental health test, Robbins was not allowed to stay at Borgata. Furthermore, Robbins was told he could never return.
Tallying up the total
When Robbins failed to appear at the scheduled poker tournament, some Borgata employees falsely stated that he had attempted suicide, the suit alleges.
As a result, Robbins claims he lost $200,000 in commercial sponsorship income.
But the big loss is projected earnings based on past results. The suit estimates Robbins is losing about $85,000 per year over the next decade by being banned from Borgata poker events.
He is also seeking reimbursement for the $2,000 healthcare bill.
The exact amount sought is $1,253,368.75. However, some of the alleged claims allow for trebled damages which could push the value of a winning judgment over $3 million.
Few more Borgata details
Just a couple of quick housekeeping notes to this story:
- Borgata was the first Atlantic City casino to bring back poker in October 2020 after the coronavirus shut down. The filed complaint mistakenly said Robbins was playing in a poker tournament in September 2020.
- Like other casino hotels, Borgata windows are nearly unbreakable. In Robbins’ complaint, his attorney notes that Borgata’s hotel rooms have 1-inch thick glass.
- In June 2019, Atlantic City police responded to Borgata after a 25-year old man was found dead. It was believed the man committed suicide by jumping from a broken window on the 29th floor.