Written on October 10, 2003.
I wrote down in a notebook my losses and winnings at a blackjack table. The casino was Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. The date was July 22, 2003. The casino executives mistreated me because of my record keeping. I was asked to leave the game in an unacceptable fashion, in flagrant violation of my civil rights. I filed a complaint with a watchdog agency, the Casino Control Commission of the state of New Jersey.
The state government agency did not respond in 30 days, as an (unwritten?) law requires. Meanwhile, I had brought my case to the attention of the FBI. I asked the state agency for an explanation. I also informed the agency that I had informed the federal government as well. The state agency responded immediately. The law enforcement branch of the Casino Control Commission informed me: “We are collecting additional information relevant to your complaint” (August 26, 2003).
The Casino Control Commission ruled on October 3, 2003. The ruling is unfavorable to me. The ruling is based on one point: A piece of correspondence from Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. I reproduce here the entire piece of correspondence.
Mr. Kenneth Doss
Casino Control Commission
Tennessee Avenue and Boardwalk
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Re: Patron Complaint P04-0051 Mr. Ion Saliu
I am responding to your inquiry into the above referenced complaint dated August 26, 2003.
As impacted by N.J.A.C Section 19:47-8.1, due to card counting possibilities, we do not allow patrons to write down the outcome of blackjack hands.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call.
Very Truly Yours,
Vice President of Legal Affairs
Would you, please, look at the date identified as "August 26, 2003"? The Commission didn't even bother to investigate my case! Not until I reminded them, in writing: “Hey, don't you know that the federal law requires you respond within 30 days? It's been 33 days now…”
As in many other cases, the casinos' PR (public relations) machine defends its wrongdoings by changing the victim into the criminal. It did so in prominent previous cases, such as Ken Uston versus Resorts (1982) and Anthony Campione versus Tropworld (1987). You see, the casinos never do anything wrong. It's the damn patrons who are the villains—always! In my case, I am a criminal for I employed an illegal device to track the remaining cards in the deck—a notebook! Other criminals use such devices as hidden miniature cameras, even voodoo dolls to see each and every card in the deck!
The Commission has never seen or asked me to produce evidence. The main piece of evidence is my notebook that led directly to my being mistreated and discriminated against. The casino does not dispute my having been mistreated. They imply their action was legally correct since they were dealing with a criminal. The Casino Control Commission informed me that:
“We have received correspondence from Loretta Pickus, Vice President of Legal Affairs, of Trump Taj Mahal Hotel Casino. Her enclosed narrative provides in pertinent part as follows: “…As impacted by N.J.A.C. Section 19:47-8.1, due to card counting possibilities, we do not allow patrons to write down the outcome of blackjack hands.”
The Commission's staff has reviewed your complaint. While N.J.A.C. 19:47-8.1 adheres to the prohibition of electronic, electrical and mechanical devices to track the cards having been dealt, the changing prohibition of any table game or the playing strategies to be utilized, it is our opinion that your complaint does not indicate any violation of the Casino Control Act or pertinent regulations. Because we find no violation of the Act or the regulations, the dispute contained in your complaint is a private matter between you and Trump Taj Mahal Hotel Casino.
Since we cannot be of any further assistance to you in this matter, we are closing the file.
Very truly yours,
Division of Compliance
The Commission sided with the casino without a thorough investigation. Worse, the ruling wrongfully converts my notebook into an accessory to crime. ”While N.J.A.C. 19:47-8.1 adheres to the prohibition of electronic, electrical and mechanical devices to track the cards having been dealt…” undoubtedly refers to ILLEGAL devices. Such ILLEGAL devices (e.g. hidden miniature cameras) serve the purpose of interfering with the game. On the other hand, my notebook only records my losses and winnings. I clearly stated in my complaint: ”…If I bet $25 and lose, I write down 25-. If I bet $25 and win, I write down 25+.” If I write down data for the purpose of card counting, what “blackjack cards” are those? 25-? 25+? What normal person in this world has ever seen such “cards” as 0, 20-, or 50+? Too bad the Casino Control Commission didn't bother to take a look at my notebook! Instead, they rushed to accuse me of committing a crime (i.e. employing illegal devices at a casino game). Now, they too will be the subjects of a lawsuit, deservingly so.
Record keeping serves a very important requirement of the tax laws. Is abiding one law illegal from the standpoint of another law? Evidently, the casinos and the Casino Control Commission adhere to such a contradiction in terms. In fact, the legal liaison of the casino at the time of my filing the complaint, assured me that the casinos take care of the tax side of gambling. I got the impression that, hey, you, the small time player get to enjoy free tax winnings! I cashed out over $600 when I won in the same Taj Mahal pit. Nobody at the cashier asked me how much my net winning was! I cashed out $2,000 at Tropicana, after being abused at the roulette game. Nobody at the cashier asked me how much my net winning was! Thanks to my notebook, I'll be in a position to provide Uncle Sam with truthful data, as required in the tax code.
Which brings me to another point of legal collision. What harm can record keeping do at the roulette table? How can one be counting cards at roulette, a game without cards? I was severely mistreated at Tropicana for the only reason that I wrote down numbers after each roulette spin. The eye-in-the-sky assuredly recorded the event. I would bet on the honesty of the casinos in this regard. For their own sake, erasing the tapes relevant to my legal action, which started on July 22, 2003, would constitute obstruction of justice and a plethora of other bad consequences (for the casinos only; none for me!) The legal liaison also offered me this strange assurance: “We do encourage players to keep records at the roulette table. We even provide pencil and paper!”
Of course, roulette would be the subject of a different lawsuit.
Then, there is another point of legal collision. Why was I mistreated at Caesar's Place? It was for the same reason of keeping records. The casinos know that the slot machines deal the players blatant deception and an outrageous form of cheating. The legal authorities should have seized by now the chips in the slot machines. I can offer truthful and relevant data concerning the blackjack slot machines. The chips, beyond reasonable doubt, are programmed to rob the player. Especially when the maximum bet is played, the machine wins by margins that are prohibited by theory of probability (and decency as well). The eye-in-the-sky recorded also a group of friends playing slot blackjack in the same area of Caesar's Place where I was playing. The group was rooting for a man, an assumingly good blackjack player. He lost big time, apparently. One of the fans was his son. I remember this very clearly: Dad, this machine is cheating you, don't you see? The machine is programmed to cheat you. You can't see the program, like you see the dealer at the table…” I thought that the son of the cheated father was a visitor to my web site. You can find here several materials pertinent to cheating by gambling software.
The slot machine deception deserves to be a class action suit. How many millions of players, expressed in how many billions of dollars, have the slot machines deceived? All the blackjack slot machines I played at blatantly deceived me. Before the game starts, the machine misinforms that a winning hand for the player is paid '2 to 1'; the blackjack is paid '2 to 1'. Meanwhile, the information at the blackjack tables states that a winning hand by the player is paid '1 to 1'; the 'blackjack pays 3 to 2'. Playing table blackjack, one realizes that, when betting 1 chip and winning, the player wins exactly 1 chip. If the player bets 2 chips and wins with a natural (blackjack), the player wins exactly 3 chips.
On the other hand, the '2 to 1' at the slot blackjack follows weird mathematics. It ain't mathematics at all, as a matter of fact. Please do this, not very expensive experiment. Insert $10 in a blackjack slot machine. Do it until your very first hand is a winning one. The machine tells you that you won 2 units (dollars). Cash out immediately. You won $2, therefore your total cash should amount to $12. NOT! Your total cash amount to exactly $11. Either the machine robbed you when you cashed out, or the machine lied to you. The truth is, the machine. . . lied to you! The machine deceived you. The blackjack slot machines pay exactly '1 to 1' for a winning hand, not '2 to 1'. The deception goes one step further in the case of a tie. The player is assured that he or she won 1 unit in the case of a tie. Even an idiot knows that a tie means 'no win, no loss'!
This form of deception serves a second purpose, favorable to the casinos only. The odds for the slot machine gambling are artificially improved to deceive the law enforcement and the players. If you see figures like 10% house edge at slot machines, you'd be safe multiplying that by at least 5. The house edge at slots must be at least 50%, given the frequency of ties (reported as win-1 by the machine) and '1 to-1' wins (reported as 'win-2' by the machine).
We are talking here about casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Forget about card counting. Yes, let's say, I am a card counter. So, what? Rulings of the Supreme Court of New Jersey prohibit discrimination against skilled players. The Atlantic City casinos do not offer games of skill, but games of chance. A game of chance implies fairness. The odds (probabilities) are independent from humans, therefore humans cannot change the odds, and therefore humans cannot influence the outcome of a game of chance. That's solid mathematics (theory of probability) and a great philosophical approach on the part of some judges. A card counter does not change the odds of the game of blackjack. Nor does a notebook. I quote here from a recommended blackjack book: ”Best Blackjack—Powerful, Easy-To-Master Card-Counting techniques”, by Frank Scoblete. Says he:
”But the casinos can't throw people out in New Jersey, ever since the late Ken Uston took them to court in 1982 and the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to ban someone from a game because that someone had skill...” (page 134).
The Anthony Campione case (1987):
”But Judge Barry Weinberg was not buying what Tropword was selling in this case and ruled that, indeed, Tropworld was in violation of the law every time it told Campione that he couldn't increase his bet to a certain amount when others at the table were allowed to do so. He also wrote: “It is discriminatory to allow others at the same table to play two hands while limiting Campione to one.” Weinberg also hammered the casino because at the times the dealer was told to skip over Campione during a round and at other times the dealer was told to short pay him…” (page 134).
Clearly, casino gambling reached a point when the law must be inscribed in stone. I envision that a clear ruling of the United States Supreme Court would settle the matter once and for all. Given the outreach of gambling, the ruling is at least as far reaching as race-based affirmative action, or gun control.
The events leading to my complaint are presented here: • "The Philosophical Science Of Winning And The Law".
For the record: I am NOT a card counter. I could apply the best card counting technique that ever was. But the card-counting strategy at blackjack has a very, very thin mathematical foundation. For all intents and purposes, the card-counting strategy at blackjack is futile. There is a staggering number of card permutations. Several articles at this web site deal with the uselessness of card counting at blackjack. Furthermore, the card-counting strategy always applies to two parameters: one deck of cards; and one and only one player against the dealer.
If you wonder what N.J.A.C or N.J.A.C. stand for, you are not alone. The correspondence I received from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission does not offer a hint. Since my notebook was wrongly assumed to be an illegal device, or confused for a criminal device, perhaps N.J.A.C. stands for ”neurotic jingoistic assessment confusion”.