Gambling giant MGM says it did nothing wrong as ‘fraudster’ gambled online
Jun 14, 2023, 9:08 AM
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Gambling giant MGM Resorts International says it did nothing wrong in its dealings with a New York City man who accuses it of preying on his gambling addiction with repeated cash bonuses intended to keep him gambling.
In court papers, MGM says Sam Antar, a twice-jailed “fraudster” who repeatedly victimized friends, relatives and strangers, is engaging in “his latest scheme” by falsely accusing MGM of wrongdoing.
MGM is asking a federal judge to dismiss Antar’s lawsuit and refer the matter to arbitration, which it says is required by the terms of service to which Antar agreed when he opened an online gambling account with the company.
The company also denies it violated any New Jersey laws.
“Sam Antar is a convicted felon and repeat fraudster who has pled guilty to defrauding numerous individuals out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in false stock investment schemes,” MGM wrote in its June 9 response to Antar’s litigation, filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. “Rather than accept accountability for his own actions, Antar blames BetMGM for his crimes, falsely claiming that BetMGM preyed upon his alleged gambling addiction.”
The company did not respond to requests for comment beyond what is contained in its court filing.
Antar is the nephew of Eddie Antar, who founded the Crazy Eddie electronics stores in the 1970s and 1980s. Eddie Antar defrauded investors out of more than $74 million, and died in 2016.
In 2013, Sam Antar was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for taking $225,000 in a fraudulent investment scheme. He was convicted and jailed last year on theft by deception charges involving nearly $350,000. In April, he admitted committing federal securities fraud for bilking investors including friends stemming from that same case, and was ordered in May to pay restitution.
“I would like to publicly apologize to all the people I hurt,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
His initial lawsuit, filed last September, accused MGM of plying him with bonus cash to dissuade him from reporting to New Jersey gambling regulators numerous instances in which he was gambling online and was disconnected from the system — often when he had a winning hand.
His revised lawsuit, filed in May, drops those allegations and focuses on what his lawyer Matthew Litt calls “what’s really important here to society as a whole: the enticement by the casino of a person who was showing signs of being a problem gambler.”
Antar, who has homes in New York and in Long Branch, New Jersey, gambled $30 million over 100,000 bets during nine months in 2019, according to his lawsuit, which does not specify how much he actually lost. Litt would not estimate those losses, although a previous lawyer in Antar’s case said they totaled “easily hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
In its response, MGM says it did not create or worsen a gambling problem in Antar or anyone else.
“To be sure, BetMGM takes problem gambling seriously, and has numerous options for persons to self-exclude or limit their play, as well as resources for assistance,” the company wrote. “However, New Jersey law does not include a common law duty to protect problem gamblers from their actions.
“Despite a heightened sensitivity to problem gaming, New Jersey courts have repeatedly held that casinos have no common law duty to prevent alleged ‘compulsive gamblers’ from gambling,” MGM wrote.
The latest version of Antar’s lawsuit makes some of the same claims that were raised — and rejected by a judge — in another person’s lawsuit targeting Atlantic City casinos. In 2008, a federal judge ruled against New York gambler Arelia Taveras who sued seven casinos whom she said had a duty to stop her from gambling. She lost nearly $1 million over two years, including dayslong gambling binges.
“She spent money on the bona fide chance that she might win more money,” U.S. District Court Judge Renee Bumb wrote in a 2008 ruling. “In short, she gambled. The mere fact that defendants profited from her misfortune, while lamentable, does not establish a cognizable claim in the law.”
MGM cites that case among its numerous defenses to Antar’s litigation.
Follow Wayne Parry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/WayneParryAC