When it comes to poker tournaments at casinos in the United States, the process of participation is simple. You show up at the casino, register to compete and then play. Amateurs and professional players travel to casinos locally as well as across the nation to play in various events. Most tournaments offer a guaranteed prize pool and have a set number of players who are allowed to compete. In most instances, the events reach the right numbers and the event is carried out as planned. However, sometimes, an event does not draw interest or issues arise which cause a poker tournament to be cancelled. In Atlantic City, a poker tournament was canceled by the Golden Nugget back in 2015 and now a player who wanted to participate has been given the option to sue.
Michael Bandler is a poker player from Vermont who traveled to Atlantic City back in 2005 to compete in a Golden Nugget poker tournament that offered up a $150,000 guaranteed prize pool. The tournament began normally, but it was soon canceled by the casino due to low player participation.
It is unclear if the event had dealt any hands or if the tournament was canceled before a hand took place. Either way, Bandler did not feel that this was fair. He decided to file a lawsuit against the gambling operator. According to the poker player, the casino was in violation of consumer fraud laws as they conducted misleading advertising regarding the tournament.
The Golden Nugget argues that regulators of the gaming industry in the state have jurisdiction regarding the issue not the court. The casino also stated that the fine print of advertisements for the event stated that it could be canceled. In the beginning, the case was ruled in favor of the casino. However, an appeals court overruled this decision last week and sided with the player.
In the new ruling, the appeals court said that the casino did not state they intended to pay $150,000 if enough people signed up. The only indirect reference is a disclaimer that can be seen in small print regarding the official rules and the right to cancel or change the event.
No further details have been provided. It appears as though the case will continue as the casino feels they were in the right to cancel and the player feels the event should have carried on.
Cancellations due to COVID
Over the past few months, poker events have been cancelled across the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Casinos began to shut down in early March and poker providers were left scrambling as to what to do with major events. Even the WSOP was cancelled and moved online as players were unable to visit casinos starting in May when the series normally begins.
Poker players have had to adapt, taking part in online gaming in states such as New Jersey, Nevada and Pennsylvania. While many events were cancelled at this time, no one seemed to be in disagreement as the reasoning was valid, due to the potential to catch the deadly virus.