It’s only been a few years since Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield opened in Massachusetts. The two casinos brought 6:5 blackjack to gamblers in the state. Blackjack players weren’t too happy with the lower payout than the traditional 3:2 blackjack game. Like some do, they upset blackjack players brought a lawsuit against both Massachusetts casinos.
It took a while but the courts have spoken. The Massachusetts casinos did not break the law by paying only 6:5 when players are dealt a natural blackjack. In late June, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield followed the law in paying 6:5 odds on blackjack games rather than 3:2 odds.
“According to the wise gambling proverb, ‘If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time,’” associate justice Scott Kafker wrote in the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in the combined cases. “The plaintiffs lose this last bet. They should have quit while they were ahead.”
This isn’t a surprising result. Rules from the Mass. Gaming Commission allows casinos to pay 6:5 when a player is dealt blackjack. The casinos may also pay 3:2 if they choose.
In fact, upon opening MGM Springfield had 14 blackjack games that paid 3:2. Similar to Wynn’s Las Vegas casinos, Encore Boston Harbor offers 3:2 blackjack for its high-limit players.
While nobody likes the lesser payout for blackjack, there was little on the bone for this lawsuit. The court continued saying:
“The plaintiffs sat down at tables with the basic rules and 6:5 payouts printed on the felt of the table, were dealt blackjacks, and won,”
“As an initial matter, the plaintiffs contend that the regulations carry more legal weight than the rules of blackjack, and thus any conflict between the regulations and the rules should be resolved in favor of the regulations. We disagree. In these cases, the blackjack rules and regulations carry equal weight, as they are proposed and approved through similarly rigorous processes.”
Gaming regulations are different in every state. For example, Pennsylvania still doesn’t allow 6:5 blackjack payouts. However, much of the country has more flexible rules. The large casino corporations lobby for the opportunity to deal 6:5 blackjack.
Prior to MGM National Harbor opening in 2016, Maryland casinos only offered 3:2 blackjack games. The rules were changed in time for MGM Resorts’ entry into the state. Many casinos in Maryland now offer a combination of 3:2 blackjack and the 6:5 game.
This isn’t to say that all casino corporations are looking to increase the house edge when they move into new states. Maybe this is just a heads up that gambling rules may change when certain corporations with a track record of paying 6:5 for blackjack enter regional markets. This is always something to keep in mind when casino corporations enter the market.
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