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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Casino Rolls Craps on Appeal

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (CN) - The Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit against Ameristar Casino was improperly dismissed and sent the case back to St. Charles County Circuit Court. Customers sued in St. Charles County Court in 2007, claiming that changes to the casino's customer awards program cost them food, cash and other perks and violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

Ameristar argued that the law did not cover gambling. St. Charles Circuit Judge Lucy Rauch found in favor of Ameristar and dismissed the case.

But in a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel, the appeals court rejected the casino's argument.

"The defendants boldly theorize that the MMPA does not even apply to gambling," Judge Lawrence E. Mooney wrote. "They argue that a casino player who drops a coin in a slot machine receives no reciprocal promise that he will obtain any 'merchandise' in return because the player knows that he may win nothing. The defendants even cite to various definitions of 'gamble' to buttress this remarkable argument. They posit that these various definitions all acknowledge the element of chance or risk. The defendants define 'gamble' as '(a) to bet on an uncertain outcome; (b) to play a game of chance; (c) to take a risk in the hope of gaining advantage; and (d) to engage in reckless behavior.' The defendants maintain that the plaintiffs entered the casino gaming floor to 'bet,' 'play,' and 'take risks,' not to purchase merchandise. The defendants apparently believe that the placing of a bet is no different than pitching a coin in a fountain or throwing money down a sewer, actions that are taken with no reasonable expectation of a return. We entirely reject this argument."

Ameristar attorney Scott Williams told reporters that he would ask for a rehearing or for the case to be moved to the state Supreme Court.

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