After last month’s decision by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcementregarding the “Chipgate” scandal at the Borgata Winter Poker Openin January, it was thought that was the end of the story. As it turns out, that may have been premature, as six players have entered a lawsuit against the casino for the resolution of the case.
According to Chad Holloway of PokerNews, the six players – Duane Haughton, Michael Sneideman, Cuong Tran, Alvin Vatanavan, Christopher Korres, and Cuong Phung, all members of the 27-player field when the tournament was suspended – enlisted the aid of attorneys William Pillsbury and Maurice VerStandig to file the lawsuit on Tuesday in the Superior Court of New Jersey. The lawsuit issues several charges against Borgata and seeks damages beyond what the settlement in April reached.
There are four counts levied against Borgata in the suit: negligence, breach of contract, breach of implied contract, and negligence per se. The players, who were awarded $19,323 in the decision by the DGE, came to the amount they’re seeking, an extra $33,756.44 per player, to get what they would have received ($53,079) if they had finished in 27th place.
The players allege the negligence charges due to “inadequate” security surveillance that was on the site for the tournament. The players state that the tournament took place in an “overflow” area that lacked the proper cameras and that the tournament staff itself didn’t keep tabs on the total chips in play and stop the tournament when it noticed that there were counterfeit chips on the felt.
According to the complaint, “Each of these breaches was such that the Borgata operated the Winter Open in a manner inferior to that in which a reasonably prudent casino would have operated the Winter Open. The breaches, individually and cumulatively, caused the Final 27 to incur damages… But for these breaches, the Final 27 would have divided the remaining prize pool, whether by election of the pro rata chop value or by playing down to a single winner. The Final 27 have been damaged.”
The players also allege that some of the members of the 27-player field received more than the agreed-upon $19,323. The complaint states that players who have signed a confidentiality agreement have received payouts “over and above the paid sum to various members of the Final 27.” The players are seeking a jury trial in the New Jersey courts.
The first event of the 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open was halted in January after the discovery of 800,000 in counterfeit chips. The event, a $2 million guaranteed tournament, had already paid hundreds of players to that point and still had the majority of the prize pool to award. First place was to have paid $372,123.
After a few days of investigation, it was discovered that one of the players in the tournament, Christian Lusardi (pictured), was allegedly responsible for the introduction of the counterfeit chips after he tried to flush 2.5 million in counterfeits down the toilet of his hotel room. Lusardi is currently in jail awaiting trial. In April, the DGE determined that all players would receive their buy-ins back for the tournament and that the final 27 would receive $19,323 each.
The players’ attorneys have stated that the lawsuit against Borgata is still in its formative stages. A summons has to be issued by the court and Borgata officials would have to be formally served with the paperwork, which could take up to two weeks. Attempts to contact the legal team representing the players by PocketFives have, as of yet, gone unanswered.