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Atlantic City Ruling a Landmark for Gambling Industry

Penny February 13, 2024

A judicial ruling on a lawsuit brought against a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, could have paved the way for greater protections for individual venues when it comes to the protection of visitors with problematic gambling behaviors. The Borgata was accused by a customer who described themselves as a problem gambler of not providing adequate steps to discourage them from gambling. The lawsuit also claimed that, despite the casino management knowing of the person’s problem, they still offered the claimant promotional deals in an effort to get them to play at the venue. However, a judge has struck this lawsuit down and removed the responsibility from venues in what could be seen as a landmark moment for casinos in the face of increasing scrutiny.

Atlantic City Ruling

Bucking a Trend of Casino Responsibility

It was a move that many didn’t expect but the judge in this case against the Borgata and its parent company MGM Resorts International ruled in favor of casinos in Atlantic City. They claimed that the strict regulation of casinos in New Jersey does not require management to block those with addictions or compulsions from gambling in their venues, according to Associated Press reporting. This would largely fly in the face of the ongoing trend worldwide where the industry appears to be facing much more backlash over its way of dealing with problematic gambling. And, while this is very clearly a fortuitous development for the industry, it is not without its critics. Instead, it looks to have caused some friction within gambling support groups and activists in the United States who see the move as a dereliction of duty by both casino operators and the regulatory framework in the state of New Jersey. 


The person at the heart of the lawsuit has spoken out on the matter, citing the need for the nation to tackle the problem of compulsive gambling. Following the judge’s ruling, they said, “This is not just about me […] when are we as a country going to address this?”. Considering they had gambled more than $30 million in just nine months of 2019, it’s clear to see that there were indications for the management of the casino that they were experiencing a problem with their gaming. That management team would likely point to the self-exclusion method available to those worried about their gaming as a reason for them to not step in when witnessing problematic behaviors. If an individual has not reached out to exclude themselves from being able to play at the state’s casinos, it could be argued that the casino can’t be held accountable for identifying those who need assistance.


Could the Law Yet Change?

While the judge in this case was keen to explain that the current regulatory framework didn’t exist in a capacity that would allow for casinos to intervene of their own volition in a problem gambling situation, that doesn’t mean that this will remain the case indefinitely. According to the Lufkin Daily News, the judge in the case said that precedent had been set in previous lawsuits in which gamblers who had lost money while under the influence of alcohol had been unsuccessful in suing other establishments. When laying out the reasons for the dismissal of the lawsuit, they highlighted that the regulatory body in the state said “has not yet seen fit to require casinos to prevent or stop inducing gambling from those that exhibit problem gambling behavior”, which would suggest that pressure could be exerted by influence groups looking to strengthen the legislation in New Jersey and on a wider federal level. 


In Europe, the crackdown on problem gambling has been much more concerted. A report by Euro News states that, as the public health concerns continue to grow in the continent, a number of countries have taken moves to reduce them. Belgium, for example, has decided to ban all gambling advertisements on legacy media and the internet. That’s a big step towards harm reduction and suggests that there is a much greater desire for the protection of gamblers rather than the defense of the casino industry. If New Jersey were to look to the continent for guidance, it’s likely that there will be a significant change in how it deals with the industry and its promotion. This exact case might be an extreme example of a compulsive gambler not being offered assistance, it’s likely that more and more stories will emerge that will shine a light on what is seen as a growing issue globally.

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