Antar Appeals Suit Dismissal In NJ, Hopes To Put RG Onus On Online Casinos

Written By Dan Holmes on March 6, 2024 - Last Updated on March 14, 2024
Image of a an appeals folder for a story on Sam Antar continuing fight against New Jersey online casinos MGM and Borgata

A New York man is appealing the dismissal of his lawsuit against MGM Resorts which alleged that the company preyed on him by offering casino bonuses even though he had a gambling problem.

In January, a US district judge in New Jersey tossed the NJ online casinos civil case filed by Sam Antar, citing lack of evidence that MGM, its Borgata Casino and online betting app BetMGM Casino was guilty of any wrongdoing.

“Despite the inclusion of gambling addiction as a substance addiction disorder in the DSM-5,” US District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo wrote in her decision, “the New Jersey legislature … has not yet seen fit to require casinos to prevent or stop inducing gambling from those that exhibit problem gambling behavior.”

Judge: Only legislative action could lead to punishment of casinos

Antar claims he bet and lost more than $25 million between May 2019 and January 2020, and was inundated with bonus offers by MGM even as his losses mounted.

Bonuses and VIP perks are often given to customers who wager significant amounts of money at casinos or online.

Antar has a checkered past, including a conviction of fraudulent financial schemes that jilted hundreds of investors out of money in the 1980s. His security fraud conviction led to a prison term and also gained Antar notoriety. In the years since he was released from prison, Antar reportedly worked for the government, assisting them in identifying securities fraud.

Judge Arleo’s dismissal and statement seemed to indicate that only a legislative action could impose a form of punishment on gaming operators in New Jersey for violation of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act in regard to Antar.

Some believe casinos should accept more responsibility

Since 2018, when the US Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that cleared the way for states to regulate online gambling, more than 30 jurisdictions have legalized and regulated the activity. As of yet, no state has taken the step to specifically hold a gaming operator, whether offering casino wagering or sports betting, liable for the gambling addiction of one of its customers.

Keith Whyte, executive director for the National Council on Problem Gambling, suggests that casinos should take steps to accept responsibility for how their marketing of bonuses may place some customers at risk for problem gambling. Essentially, as it stands, the legal gambling industry does not follow a system that holds operators accountable, similar to a bar over-serving alcohol to patrons.

Antar’s attorney, Matthew Litt, sees a problem with the persistence from casinos in approaching bettors who have in the past chosen to stop gambling due to a problem.

“Every casino, in their safe play rules, will tell you if you feel like things are getting too hot, take a break. But then if you take a break too long, you start getting emails to convince you to come back,” Litt said recently.

“The casinos will say there’s an opt-out, but people don’t do that. I’d like to see the legislature shift the burden to the casinos, where if someone doesn’t opt back in after 30 days, they can’t contact them.”

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a contributing writer for PlayNJ. He has written three boooks about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as well as Major League Baseball. An avid writer, runner and enjoyer of lemon bars, Dan lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and, oftentimes, a nearby orange cream soda.

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