February 13, 2010
The Iowa supreme court handed down an interesting decision Friday related to the Meadows ATM. The court’s decision in Blackford v. Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Inc. considered the question of whether a person who had been “trespassed” (permanently banned) from a casino, but later plays at the casino and wins a jackpot, is entitled to be paid the jackpot.
The timeline of relevant facts makes this a rather complicated situation:
- August 1996—Blackford punches his hand through the glass front of a slot machine. He is ejected and advised he is permanently banned from the casino. He also pleads guilty to criminal mischief and is fined.
- March 1998—Blackford is found on the casino premises, and is escorted from the building. He pleads guilty to trespass and is fined.
- 2000—Blackford writes to Prairie Meadows to request his ban be lifted. It is contested whether the ban was lifted. Prairie Meadows has no written record of lifting the ban, while Blackford contends the ban was lifted by a letter (which he was not able to produce at time of trial).
- January 2006—Blackford applies for and is issued a Prairie Meadows slot club card. He uses the card on at least one occasion between January and May 2006.
- May 2006—Blackford wins $9,387, primarily through slot machine play, including a jackpot. Upon cashing out, the size of the jackpot required issuance of a W-2, at which time the casino discovered Blackford was banned. Blackford was taken to a security office, his winnings were confiscated, he was required to sign a form donating his winnings to a local gambling addiction treatment program, and finally he was charged with trespassing and released.
On further review by the Iowa supreme court, the court first looked at the casino’s right to permanently ban individuals from gambling at the casino. The court determined that gaming regulations permit a casino to “eject or exclude” a person from its premises literally for any reason whatsoever, so long as it is not based on a constitutionally protected classification (e.g., race, gender, national origin, or disability).