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Third Worker Claims Riviera Rigged Slots

LAS VEGAS (CN) - The Riviera Hotel and Casino rigged a slot machine against players and fired a security worker for reporting it to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the man claims in court - the third former employee to sue the Riviera for this.

Michael Hicks sued the Riviera for wrongful termination and retaliation in Clark County Court.

In January this year, the casino's former security director filed the first such lawsuit against the Riviera. Douglas A. Poppa claimed the casino fired him for reporting the rigging to the Gaming Control Board, and refusing to shut up about it.

Poppa claimed in his lawsuit : "On October 22, 2011, plaintiff learned that senior VP of Gaming Operations, Noah Acres, had rigged the slot machine game called 'Money Blast' to ensure that patrons could not 'hit' or win the jackpot for that game."

Poppa claimed the Riviera's CEO and vice president of operations also were informed the machine had been rigged and took no action. He said the Riviera suspended him and told him not to complain, and when he refused to keep quiet, he was fired, on Jan. 6, 2012.

In the second lawsuit , filed in August, security officer Mark Whittington said the Riviera fired him because "management had made the decision not to retain anyone on probation who had been hired by Poppa, and that he, Whittington fell into this category."

Hicks's lawsuit resembles Poppa's. He claims he learned that Acres rigged the game, and he filed a voluntary statement with the Gaming Control Board in November 2011.

Hicks, who began working security for the Riviera in May 2006, claims the casino suspended him for a month after he filed the statement.

"To retain his employment with defendant, plaintiff was specifically told that he could not make any further statements that were disparaging about the company to any third parties," Hicks says in the lawsuit.

It continues: "Furthermore, to retain his job, plaintiff was informed he could not complain about retaliation to human resources.

"Plaintiff believed that he had a legal obligation to report defendant for rigging gaming machines and that the directive to refrain from such conduct was illegal."

The Riviera fired him on Jan. 3, 2012, Hicks says.

He seeks damages and punitive damages for wrongful firing, whistleblower retaliation, negligence and age discrimination - he was older than 60 when he was fired.

He is represented by Trevor J. Hatfield.

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