Atlantic City casinos are not legally required to stop compulsive gamblers from betting, according to a federal judge who dismissed a lawsuit filed by a self-described problem gambler.
US District Court Judge Madeline Cox Arleo dismissed a complaint on Jan. 31 filed by Sam Antar against Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and its parent company, MGM Resorts International, the Associated Press reports.
Antar alleged the AC casino lured him into gambling despite knowing his addiction. In court documents, Antar said he placed over 100,000 bets and gambled approximately $30 million at Borgata and online using the BetMGM NJ online casino app in 2019. Antar did not specify how much he lost.
Atlantic City casinos don’t ‘owe’ problem gamblers
The state’s gaming law “pervasively regulates the responsibilities of casinos as they relate to compulsive gamblers, but is notably silent on whether casinos or online gambling platforms may induce people who present with compulsive gambling behavior to patronize their businesses,” the judge wrote in her decision.
Other states have seen similar lawsuits dismissed. Cox Arleo also noted two NJ cases, one involving another compulsive gambler and the other about a guest who claimed they were too drunk to be held responsible for their gambling losses. Both those cases were unsuccessful.
New Jersey’s voluntary exclusion program is open to anyone. Atlantic City casinos and online operators must intervene when someone on the list tries to gamble. However, you cannot force individuals into the self-exclusion program.
In her decision, the judge wrote:
“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. As a matter of law, defendants (casinos, gambling operators) do not owe a negligence common law duty of care to plaintiffs.”
Antar: ‘Who better than me?’
Antar is the nephew of Eddie Antar, who some may remember from the “Crazy Eddie” car commercials of the 70s and 80s. Eddie Antar went to prison for fraud.
New Jersey recently released Sam Antar from state prison (March 2023) for embezzlement, a crime he claims he committed to satisfy his gambling addiction.
He told the Associated Press he is currently in an intensive supervision program and has been informally counseling young people with gambling problems.
“Who better than me to show them what this can become?” Antar said.
Wordplay aside, NJ attorney serious about problem gambling
Antar’s attorney, Matthew Litt, told the AP an appeal is coming. Litt says the appeal will question whether the state’s consumer fraud protection law applies to this scenario.
Litt recently formed a legal collective called Bettor Lawyers, which focuses on gambling advertising and marketing as “gambling addiction is reaching terrifying levels,” he said in a press release.
“This is exactly why I went to law school. I want to protect people who need some help protecting themselves.
“Compulsive gamblers, especially children and young adults, are powerless against the casinos’ massive advertising budgets aimed squarely at separating them from as much of their money as possible until there’s nothing left at all.”