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Wealthy Gambler Refuses to Pay $1.2 Million Blackjack Debt to Casino

Mar 20, 2011

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Pay if Play?

Casinos are lately having a difficult time collecting unpaid debts on markers loaned to gamblers when losing players refuse to repay the loans.

In May of 2009, a Florida millionaire, Mr. Jerome Powers (64), lost $1.2 million dollars playing blackjack card games at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. That would have been the end of the story, but the $1.2 million that he lost, was a marker: credit given by the casino to Mr. Powers.

That night, Mr. Powers wrote a total of six post-dated checks to the casino to cover the $1.2 million borrowed. All the checks given to the casino were not honored by issuing banks. The next day, Mr. Powers asked his banks to void the checks (stopping payment), upon returning to his mansion in the exclusive enclave of Miami Beach, Florida.

Originally, Mr. Powers refused to honor his gambling debt ‘out of principal’. He claimed that Mohegan Sun Casino strategy was to pressured him into opening a credit line, while he was ‘incapacitated due to severe intoxication’, so that he can continue playing blackjack. Expert gamblers concur that one of the most important blackjack rules is to never play while intoxicated.

Mohegan Sun Casino, quickly took the case to Connecticut court to demand repayment of the $1.2 million marker.

Mr. Powers argued that the casino credit marker was an illegal contract, according to Connecticut State Law, which explicitly forbids both gambling and issuing credit for the purpose of gambling. Mohegan Sun Casino, as all Connecticut casinos, is operated by a local American Indian tribe and is located on sovereign tribal lands, outside the jurisdiction of federal and state laws.

Judge Robert C. Leuba of New London Superior Court rejected Mr. Powers’ arguments, and permitted Mohegan Sun to begin the process of seizing his assets.

This week, Mr. Powers filed a motion with the Appellate Court of Connecticut to reverse the lower court’s ruling. Mr. Powers, argues that since the incident occurred on sovereign tribal lands, with its own laws and court systems, Connecticut Courts have no jurisdiction over the matter.

Due to the appeal, Mohegan Sun was prevented from seizing Mr. Powers’ bank accounts until the higher court makes a ruling. It normally takes the Appellate Court two to four years to begin hearing a case.

Mr. Powers is currently the CEO of Plum TV, a multi-million dollar media holding company. He recently sold one of his magazines, targeting ultra-wealthy shoppers, to billionaire Donald Trump for $20 million.

Mr. Powers and his attorney, Mr. Thor Holth, have not return messages. Mohegan Sun’s lawyer, Mr. Andrew Houlding, declined to comment.

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