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Best of Sean Whaley

Gaming Guru

Sean Whaley
 

Advantage Gamblers Lose Case Against Control Board Agents

16 November 2004

CARSON CITY -- A pair of "advantage gamblers," who use dealer or casino mistakes to increase their odds of winning, lost an appeal Monday to the Supreme Court seeking the right to sue two Gaming Control Board agents for wrongful arrest.

The court, in a brief order, agreed with a lower court ruling that Michael Russo and James Grosjean could not sue the control board and two of its agents, Roderick O'Neal and Charles Pointon, for damages stemming from an incident four years ago at Caesars Palace.

The actions of the two agents "were not so sufficiently egregious as to strip them of the qualified immunity that they are entitled to under statute," the court said.

The two men sought to sue the board and its agents after their 2000 arrests following a win of about $18,000 playing a table game at Caesars Palace.

Russo was jailed for about 12 hours and Grosjean was jailed for four days.

Grosjean is a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Chicago and author of "Beyond Counting," a "how-to" gambling manual on beating the odds in casinos.

The men, through their Las Vegas attorney Bob Nersesian, have also sued Park Place Entertainment Corp., now called Caesars Entertainment, and its Caesars Palace resort. That lawsuit is in progress.

Nersesian said he was "flabbergasted" by the ruling because the claim made against the agents was that they concocted evidence, such as card-bending, to justify the arrest of the two men.

Nersesian said he will seek a U.S. Supreme Court review on the federal issues raised in the case.

The case started on April 21, 2000, when Grosjean was handcuffed and detained by security guards at Caesars Palace for allegedly cheating. Grosjean was allegedly winning a card game due to a "sloppy" dealer and his own "hole carding," where a player tries to gain an advantage by catching glimpses of a blackjack dealer's unturned cards.

In a separate incident involving other gaming control board agents, Grosjean was detained for half an hour, searched and cuffed at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas after walking through the resort but not gambling.

In a lawsuit in that case filed against the hotel, Grosjean recently won a $400,000 judgment after a jury trial.

A jury found that Grosjean's rights were violated by the casino when security guards at the Strip hotel-casino detained him and roughed him up.