(CN) – An Indiana gambler cannot be banned from a riverboat’s blackjack table for counting cards, the state Court of Appeals ruled.
Thomas Donovan visited the Grand Victoria Casino and Resort, located on a riverboat in Rising Sun, Ind. He supplemented his income with blackjack earnings as an “advantage player,” counting the cards that had been played and adjusting his bets accordingly.
Donovan had a deal with the casino that he could play blackjack and count cards if he did not bet more than $25 per hand.
But a new pit boss refused to honor that arrangement, and Donovan sued the casino for breach of contract.
He argued that because the casino catered to tourists, it could not exclude a patron arbitrarily. The casino operators countered that, as a private company, the casino could exclude anyone, so long as it did not violate civil rights laws.
The trial court ruled for the casino, but the appellate court overturned that decision, citing the rule-making authority of the Indiana Gaming Commission.
“The Commission did not enact a prohibition against card counting, and Grand Victoria did not seek a prohibition by rule amendment,” Judge Bailey wrote.
The court concluded that Grand Victoria “may not exclude (Donovan) from blackjack because he counts cards.”