Blackjack players waged a lawsuit against Massachusetts casinos over the past couple of years. They were incensed by the fact that MA casinos offer 6:5 payouts (instead of 3:2) for natural blackjacks.
This has been a landmark case in the gaming industry. It’s the first time that gamblers have sued casinos over blackjack payouts.
The lawsuit has come to a close, though, with the gaming industry prevailing. I’m going to discuss why the players lost this case along with if the ruling was just.
What Was at the Heart of the Blackjack Payouts Lawsuit?
Gamblers filed two class-action lawsuits against Encore Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield over the low natural blackjack payouts. The lawsuits claim that 6:5 natural payoffs violate state gaming regulations.
They also point out how the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) bans “6/5 blackjack” in its handbook. The MGC is referring to a specific 6/5 variation and not 6:5 natural payouts in general.
In essence, the players argue that the MCG is ambiguous on blackjack rules. Therefore, they deduced that 6:5 payoffs are illegal by state law.
The legal filings claimed that Massachusetts casinos take $85,440 per day from players through the low payouts. This daily amount translates to $30 million in extra annual winnings for the casinos.
Courts Side With the Casinos
A panel of judges hearing this case ruled in favor of the casinos. They stated that players knew the rules going in the game and couldn’t reclaim losses through the court system.
“They played at tables requiring smaller bets and paying out a winning blackjack at six dollars for every five dollars bet (6:5),” the judges wrote. “[They could’ve chosen] three dollars for every two dollars bet (3:2) as at the more expensive tables.”
Despite the confusing stemming from the MGC’s rulebook, the panel felt that gamblers ultimately knew the payout rules. They noted that the payoff for a natural is written on the blackjack tables.
Why the Judges Were Right to Side With the Casinos
I’m a gambler and not a casino operator. My natural inclination is to side with gamblers in these types of disputes. However, I have to admit that the judges got this one right.
As the panel noted, the natural blackjack payout is printed on every table. It’s not like this is a hidden rule—it’s right out in the open for every gambler to see.
I could see the players’ point if casinos made some attempt to hide how much they’re paying for a natural. Again, though, this isn’t the case at all.
Additionally, no precedent exists for casinos being successfully sued just for offering unfavorable odds. Plenty of casino games have high house edges, such as American roulette (5.26%), triple zero roulette (7.69%), and keno (10% or higher).
Players can research strategy and avoid playing such games after learning the odds. By choosing not to study strategy, they take their chances when sitting down at tables.
Of course, this lawsuit was mainly about the wording of a Massachusetts gaming law. Nevertheless, the case would’ve been helped tremendously by MA casinos hiding the blackjack payouts or engaging in another nefarious practice.
None of this happened, though, which made the case difficult to win. Additionally, unfavorable odds don’t constitute a valid reason to sue.
Massachusetts Players Should Boycott the Blackjack Tables
The courts have proven that Massachusetts gamblers can’t successfully sue casinos for low blackjack payouts. However, all isn’t lost in this regard.
Gamblers can always vote with their feet when the conditions are unfavorable. 6:5 blackjack payoffs are certainly far from ideal.
The best way to handle this situation is by playing as little blackjack in MA casinos as possible. This way, local gambling establishments get the message that their low natural payouts aren’t welcome.
Of course, the Bay State isn’t exactly filled with casinos. It’s not like Las Vegas, which has a massive variety of blackjack tables.
Those wanting to play live blackjack can only do so at Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield. Anybody who’s on the fence about playing blackjack, though, should avoid tables with 6:5 payouts.
Where to Find 3:2 Blackjack Payouts at Low Stakes
The players who filed the class-action lawsuit against MGM Springfield and Boston Harbor were unhappy about the blackjack options. They didn’t, and still don’t, like the fact that low stakes are accompanied by 6:5 payouts.
Massachusetts may not allow you to enjoy the stakes with reasonable natural payouts. Nevertheless, you can still find this mixture through other means.
Mobile blackjack is the easiest way to access quality blackjack games. Many online casinos feature reasonable rules and low minimum bets.
Regarding the latter, you only need to wager $1 per hand. You can also play live dealer blackjack for anywhere between $1 and $5.
The online rules are among the best that you’ll find anywhere. These favorable rules lead to extremely low house edges.
Here are some of the best online blackjack games available:
- Ezugi Blackjack Surrender – 0.11% house edge
- 1×2 Gaming Blackjack Bonus – 0.18%
- Saucify Single Deck – 0.21%
- PokerStars Double Deck – 0.23%
- Microgaming Single Deck – 0.31%
- NordicBet Single Deck – 0.31%
You don’t even need to play these games to enjoy solid odds of winning. The average mobile blackjack variation only features around a 0.5% house edge.
Sin City may be quite a ways away from Massachusetts. If it’s great live blackjack you want, though, then there’s no better place than Las Vegas.
Vegas is home to countless low-stakes games that let you play for next to nothing. You’ll even enjoy reasonable rules, too.
Lucky Club, for example, features a $1 blackjack table with just a 0.64% house edge. While this game might not completely match online blackjack’s house advantage, it provides an outstanding combination for a live game.
Poker Palace offers a $2 table with a 0.41% house edge. It’s a great alternative if you can’t get in on any of Lucky Club’s tables.
Joker’s Wild and Sam’s Town both feature a $3 game with a 0.78% house edge. You can enjoy a fair-and-cheap game at either of these casinos.
Vegas offers lots of $5 tables with solid rules. Many of these games carry around a 0.5% house advantage.
Reno may not be as popular as its cross-state rival, Las Vegas. Nevertheless, it’s still a notable gaming destination with high-quality blackjack.
The “World’s Biggest Little City” tends to attract many low rollers. Reno casinos accommodate them by offering plenty of $5 tables with fair rules.
They also offer solid rewards to blackjack players. Unlike Vegas casinos, Reno establishments need to put more effort into bringing gamblers back. They use generous loyalty rewards as a method of achieving this goal.
Should You Ever Settle for 6:5 Payouts?
No fair blackjack game offers 6:5 payoffs on naturals. In comparison to a 3:2 payout, a 6:5 payout increases the house edge by 1.39%.
With that said, you should avoid such tables whenever possible. The only way you’ll enjoy a reasonable chance to win is if 3:2 payouts are available.
As mentioned earlier, online blackjack makes for a nice alternative if you don’t have a fair local game. The average mobile variation features around a 0.5% house advantage.
If you want the feel of live blackjack, then you can still enjoy solid odds. Many live dealer blackjack games offer between a 0.4% and 0.8% house edge.
Of course, you might still consider playing a game with 6:5 payouts if you’re desperate for land-based blackjack. This may be the only type of tables that your area offers.
If at all possible, though, I suggest looking for an alternative. No quality blackjack game starts off with 6:5 natural payoffs.
The only reason why casinos pay 6:5 on natural blackjacks is to boost their profits. The players, meanwhile, lose more money when they’re only receiving 6:5 instead of 3:2 on a natural.
No casino should be commended for paying 6:5 for a natural. However, they’re perfectly within their legal rights to do so.
Massachusetts blackjack players were hoping to use ambiguous gaming laws against the casinos. Judges, though, decided that gambling establishments aren’t violating any laws by offering 6:5 payoffs.
As a result, Massachusetts casinos will still continue offering unfavorable low-stakes games. But luckily, you don’t have to settle for such tables even if you’re in the Bay State.
You can enjoy much more favorable blackjack games online. Assuming you’re up for a trip, you can also visit Vegas or Reno and find some great tables.