Gamblers Seek Class Action Certification

Gamblers Seek Class Action Certification

New York class action accusing Atlantic City, N.J., casino Revel of duping consumers
Gamblers Seek Class Action Certification

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gamblers Seek Class Action Certification

Gavin Broady


Law360, New York (September 25, 2013, 3:08 PM ET) -- Plaintiffs in a New York class action accusing Atlantic City, N.J., casino Revel of duping consumers with a bogus offer to refund slot machine losses mounted a bid for class certification on Tuesday, saying the casino owners masked deceptive loopholes in the bargain.

According to plaintiffs, casino owners Revel Entertainment Group LLC and Chatham Asset Management LLC were behind a  “Gambler's Wanted” campaign that, in a bid to draw visitors, promised to pay back all slot machine losses for the month of July 2013. But the owners hid the fact the casino would require consumers who wanted their money back to return for 20 straight weeks, during which they would receive their refunds in only 5 percent increments.

“After being lured by defendants, the putative class members later learned that defendants never intended to refund any slot losses,” the plaintiffs said. “Defendants relied on their deceptively hidden rules to avoid paying any refunds at all.”

In their complaint, the group of five plaintiffs describe how Revel enticed customers into visiting the casino with advertising language that promised “You really can't lose” and “If you win, you win. If you lose, we'll give it all back!”

The true restrictions and limitations of the offer, however, were concealed within “virtually illegible fine print,” according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are seeking to certify a class of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C.,  residents who patronized the casino after seeing the ad campaign and subsequently suffered at least $100 in unrefunded slot machine losses during July 2013.

While the precise wording of the state consumer protection statutes under which the suit is brought vary, the plaintiffs note that the laws themselves are similar enough to meet commonality requirements. The number of consumers allegedly duped by the campaign is also large enough to justify class treatment, possibly reaching the tens of thousands, according to the motion.

The plaintiffs, who launched the action in late August, requested that briefing on the motion be stayed, noting that they were moving to certify the class early in the litigation in an effort to prevent a “buy off” that would sink the suit.

Earlier this month, disgruntled consumers in New Jersey launched a second putative class action citing breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, New Jersey Truth in Consumer Contract Warranty and Notice Act, and New York General Business Law.

The casino has also recently found itself in hot water over its event booking. Earlier this month, it was slapped with a $20 million New York breach of contract suit by a talent booking company accusing it of backing out of a five-year cooperative deal.

In that suit, Ovation Live Inc. claims Revel stiffed it on required commissions and terminated their contract for “false” reasons, despite the fact that Ovation provided access to popular performers like Rihanna and Alicia Keys for its 5,500-seat arts and entertainment amphitheater, according to that complaint.

Revel's “Gambler's Wanted” promotion appeared shortly after its May 2013 emergence from bankruptcy. The casino had secured approvals from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission and a New Jersey bankruptcy court on its restructuring plan, which called for cutting Revel's debt by $1.2 billion through an exchange of debt for equity.

Representatives for the parties were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

The plaintiffs are represented by Todd D. Muhlstock of Baker Sanders LLC.

Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available.

The case is Boyd et al. v. Revel Entertainment Group L.L.C. et al., case number 1:13-cv-05965, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Article last updated on 10/9/2013 6:51:00 PM | Article Views: 2498