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Liz Benston

Jury: New Frontier Must Pay $110,000 to Card Counter

26 September 2005

A Clark County District Court jury has awarded a gambler $110,000 for an incident in 2001 in which he was detained in a security office at the New Frontier.

Wednesday, the jury found the New Frontier, its security chief and a security guard liable for false imprisonment, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

Earlier this year, the court dismissed claims for defamation, violation of civil rights and unlawfully searching the gambler's personal property.

New Frontier attorney Steven Jaffe said the property is analyzing the verdict and "looking at all of our options." Those could include appealing the decision, pushing for a new trial or asking the judge to reverse all or part of the verdict.

Gambler David D'Aquin was not cheating at cards but was admittedly counting cards -- an activity that is legal in Nevada. Casinos don't want card counters' business and have the legal right to prohibit counters' play and ask them to leave the property.

According to the New Frontier's account of the 2001 incident, D'Aquin won about $4,000 after about 30 to 40 minutes at blackjack. He was approached by security personnel after cashing out his winnings and was escorted into a private room, where he was detained and questioned for less than 10 minutes.

D'Aquin asked for $100,000 in compensatory damages. The court dismissed his claim for punitive damages.

The New Frontier said D'Aquin didn't suffer any damages. The casino said the surveillance videotape of the incident does not show that the man was assaulted and questioned his claim of emotional distress.

"A review of that tape reveals nothing as catastrophic as (D'Aquin) would have this court believe," the casino said in a court filing. The videotape shows a security employee cursing at D'Aquin and placing him up against a wall to be searched.

The casino also said D'Aquin committed a crime by gambling at the property, obtaining a loyalty club card and winning money under an assumed name. But D'Aquin said he broke no laws by using a fake name because he didn't use the name to commit a crime.

According to court documents, the New Frontier's security chief said that after the incident, the property changed its practice of bringing suspected card counters into a back room for questioning. The security chief said the casino now approaches unwanted gamblers on the casino floor and asks them to leave, court filings show.