On Wednesday, a New York resident sued BetMGM in New Jersey Superior Court over a series of alleged regulatory violations that stem from his complaints about online blackjack and other casino games repeatedly being disconnected in the midst of play.
In the lawsuit, Sam Antar claimed that he was often disconnected when he appeared to have a favorable hand. But whenever he threatened to inform regulators at the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement about the errors, Antar asserted that he repeatedly would receive free betting credits from BetMGM to soothe his concerns.
The issues occurred roughly “every 15 to 30 minutes,” Antar claimed, when he played the games between May 2019 and Jan. 2020.
In that span, Antar said he made at least 100,000 online bets at up to $5,000 per bet, as well as more than 30 visits to Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino, which is named as a co-defendant. He estimated that he gambled at least $29 million in that span. Antar described himself in the lawsuit as “a compulsive and vulnerable gambler.”
The technical issues were so prevalent that Antar said he “made dozens of attempts with Defendants to seek redress and resolution,” to no avail. Instead, bonuses averaging $30,000 per month were deposited into this account in that time span.
The civil action alleges fraud, negligence, breach of contract, violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, and numerous violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act (RICO).
The ‘Crazy’ connection
Those who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s in the New York City metropolitan area will remember the ubiquitous “Crazy Eddie” TV commercials promoting sales at the company’s electronics stores.
That company’s founder was Eddie Antar, the uncle of this lawsuit’s plaintiff. In addition to BetMGM and Borgata, MGM Resorts and Entain — which share ownership of BetMGM — were also named in the suit.
The suit was filed in Middlesex County in central New Jersey because Antar made online wagers in several municipalities there. The Jon Bon Jovi rest stop on the Garden State Parkway and the Thomas Edison rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike are among the sites of Antar’s online gambling forays listed in the suit. New Jersey is one of only half a dozen states that offer legal, regulated online casino gambling.
Antar asserted that he participated in New Jersey’s voluntary self-exclusion program that is designed to aid compulsive gamblers, and that BetMGM officials were aware that he had been involved in that program before removing himself from its list. The mid-game disconnections occurred “thousands of times,” according to Antar, who said he collected hundreds of screenshots as proof.
In July 2019, Antar said that he played a blackjack hand online with a BetMGM executive so the latter could see what the issue was, and that the texted response was, “We are gonna do everything we can to make this s**t right for you, no question.”
Antar was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison in 2013 for taking $225,000 in a fraudulent investment scheme and spending the money in part on gambling, and he pled guilty in 2019 to second-degree theft by deception in another investment scheme.
Eddie Antar, who hired a radio disc jockey to portray him in the iconic TV commercials, died in 2016.