We’re eternally fascinated by athletes whose skills are so spectacular, the powers-that-be of their respective sports feel compelled to change the ground rules in order to preserve some modicum of fairness. (See: Wilt Chamberlain and the widening of the lane, the recent “Tiger Proofing” of golf courses.) Now something similar is going on in the world of low-brow blackjack, and we must say we sympathize with the small fry on this one:
Grand Victoria Casino and Resort in Rising Sun, supported by the association that represents 11 of the state’s 12 casinos, last week asked the Indiana Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that forces them to allow Thomas Donovan to play blackjack, even though the Indianapolis man admits he is counting cards…
Donovan’s case stems from a blackjack game at the Grand Victoria in June 2006. Casino staff spotted him counting cards and barred him from playing.
Donovan filed suit in September 2007, and Marion Superior Court Judge Robyn Moberly ruled in favor of the casino.
But on Oct. 30, the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned Moberly’s decision, allowing Donovan and other card counters access to the state’s casinos.
The three-judge panel said Indiana has no law, rule or regulation that prohibits card counting at the state’s casinos. Until the laws or regulations change, the court ruled, card counters have the right to play.
This strikes us as a slam-dunk win for the plaintiff, a retired programmer who clams his math wizardry nets him a relatively paltry $6,000 each yeat at Indiana’s gaming tables. Casinos shouldn’t enjoy the same rule-changing latitude as professional sports leagues, since the nature of their contract with players is quite different—they take money, rather than pay out regular salaries. Plus they’re in the business of providing entertainment to the players themselves, not to spectators, which means they’re under no obligation to make their games more watchable.
By the way, we once tried counting cards at a blackjack table. Though Donovan claims the feat is so easy a seventh grader could do it, we got completely lost. The four Long Island Iced Teas we consumed during our session probably didn’t aid our concentration.