Articles Posted in Gaming Law

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Lauren Proctor and Trans-Union National Title Insurance Company brought this action against Whitlark & Whitlark, Inc., d/b/a Rockaways Athletic Club ("Rockaways") and Pizza Man, Forrest Whitlark, Paul Whitlark, Charlie E. Bishop, and Brett Blanks (collectively "Defendants") seeking to recover money Proctor lost while gambling on video poker machines located at Rockaways and Pizza Man over the course of several years, including a time period following the South Carolina Legislature's ban of video poker in 2000. The circuit court granted Proctor's motion for partial summary judgment on her claim under the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act ("UTPA") as to the liability of Defendants. In so ruling, the court found the Legislature had abrogated the doctrine of in pari delicto with regard to losses sustained by illegal gambling for public policy reasons. The Court of Appeals affirmed. After its review, the Supreme Court found that the Legislature enacted specific gambling loss statutes as the exclusive remedy for a gambler seeking recovery of losses sustained by illegal gambling. By this opinion, the Court overruled its decisions that have implicitly authorized recovery beyond these statutes. As a result, the Court held that one engaged in illegal gambling could not recover under UTPA. However, based on the distinct facts of this case, the Court found that Proctor could pursue the portion of her UTPA claim for the losses she alleged that she sustained between 1999 and July 1, 2000, the day on which the ban on video poker became effective. View "Proctor v. Whitlark & Whitlark" on Justia Law

Posted in: Gaming Law

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The Catawba Indian Nation brought a declaratory judgment action against the State (and Mark Keel) to determine the effect of the Gambling Cruise Act on its gambling rights. The circuit court granted summary judgment to the State, finding: (1) the Tribe's action was precluded by collateral estoppel and/or res judicata, and (2) the Gambling Cruise Act does not confer upon the Tribe the right to offer video poker and similar electronic play devices on its Reservation as the Act does not alter the statewide ban on video poker. The Tribe appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed in part, and reversed in part: the circuit court's determination that the Gambling Cruise Act did not authorize the Tribe to offer video poker on its Reservation in contravention of the existing statewide ban on video gambling devices was affirmed; the Tribe's action was not precluded by collateral estoppel or res judicata, reversing this finding by the circuit court. View "Catawba Indian Nation v. South Carolina" on Justia Law

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Nathan Stallings leased a home in Mt. Pleasant where he lived with his fiancee and a roommate. He used an internet networking site to meet other poker players, and established a regular Sunday night game in his home. Players would buy into the game for a minimum of $5 and a maximum of $20. Respondents Robert Chimento, Scott Richards, Michael Williamson, Jeremy Brestel and John Willis were convicted in municipal court of violating S.C. Code Ann. 16-19-40(a) (2003) which made it unlawful to "play . . . in any house used as a place of gaming . . . any game with cards. . . ." after they were found playing Texas Hold'em and gambling in Stallings' home. On appeal, the circuit court reversed respondents’ convictions finding they were entitled to directed verdicts or, alternatively, that section 16-19-40(a) was unconstitutional. The municipal judge found, based on expert testimony presented by the respondents, that Texas Hold'em is a game of skill. The municipal judge also held that if a game of skill were without the ambit of gaming, then he would acquit the respondents, but that there was no clear indication whether the legislature intended to criminalize only gambling on games of chance. At the hearing, the municipal judge declined to find section 16-19-40 unconstitutional. The circuit court reversed, and the Town appealed that order. The issues before the Supreme Court were reduced to: (1) whether respondents were entitled to directed verdicts because betting money on a game of skill at a residence is not prohibited by section 16-19-40; and (2) if respondents were not entitled to directed verdicts, should their convictions have been set aside because section 16-19-40(a) was unconstitutional? The Court found that the circuit court erred in reversing respondents' convictions, and therefore the order on appeal is itself was reversed. View "Town of Mount Pleasant v. Chimento" on Justia Law

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Appellant Willard Farr owned seven gaming machines seized from a Union business. The magistrate issued an order to destroy the machines, and Appellant timely sought a post-seizure hearing in an attempt to block their destruction. Following the hearing, the magistrate affirmed the order, and Appellant appealed to the circuit court. Appellant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented before the magistrate concerning the State's witness and her inability to identify which of the offending machines she played. Finding that Appellant misunderstood the burden of proof at the post-seizure hearing (which rested solely on the owner to show why the machines should not have been forfeited and destroyed), the Supreme Court affirmed the magistrate's and circuit court's decisions. View "Union County Sheriff's Office v. Henderson" on Justia Law