Blackjack and the Law

written by I. Nelson Rose

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Prof. I. Nelson Rose

17031 Encino Hills Drive

Encino, CA 91436


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Let’s say you’re playing blackjack in a casino, having a drink, minding your own business, winning steadily for a change and enjoying it. Suddenly, there’s a tap on your shoulder. Some guy in a suit, accompanied by two silent security guards, informs you that you must come with them to answer a few questions. Is this legal? It happens all the time. Everyone from the casual player on vacation to the full-time professional card-counter will find useful answers to legal gambling questions in the new book, Blackjack and the Law.

Do the casinos have the legal right to exclude players just because those players are skillful? What if a player who is told to leave comes back to play later? Can he be arrested? Can a player be forced to show his ID? Can you legally use false ID? Can you check into the hotel under a fake name? What if you are told by security guards to go into the “back room”? Is preferential shuffling legal? Can a casino legally restrict your bet spread if they allow others at your table to bet without restrictions? Can you legally use a concealed computer at the tables? What constitutes an illegal “device” in casinos? Are there states where devices are not illegal? How do the new cash transaction reporting regulations affect professional gamblers? How can professionals take gambling losses off their taxes? What records do you have to keep to satisfy the IRS? Is it legal to gamble over the Internet? Are gaming laws different on Indian reservations? What if you are cheated in an Indian reservation casino? These are the questions that this book answers.

In 1961, M.I.T. mathematician E.O. Thorp, with access to one of the first mainframe computers, figured out that the game of casino blackjack could be beaten. He then went out and proved the effectiveness of the strategy he devised in a number of Nevada casinos. Over the years, card counting has become a relentless cat-and-mouse game. Casinos now use computers to analyze the strategies of the players at their tables in order to identify the skillful players; if they could make it illegal to use your brain in a casino, they would. They do everything they can to thwart skilled players, and it often seems like the law is on the casinos’ side.

Gambling has become part of the corporate culture. CEO’s running casinos love the fact that theirs is the one industry where the profit margin is inherent to the product. All casino games, except blackjack, have a built-in house edge, a mathematically calculable advantage to the gaming establishment. The CEO’s hate that blackjack can be beaten by a small percentage of skillful players who have studied and practiced card counting, but are the casinos going too far in their attempts to stop it? In order to protect their civil rights, casino players today must have a legal arsenal at their disposal. Blackjack and the Law is the foundation of that arsenal.

Blackjack and the Law brings together 14 years of the syndicated columns of Professor I. Nelson Rose with the commentary of attorney Robert A. Loeb. For those more interested in the political ramifications of gaming’s unprecedented growth, other chapters titles are “The Federal Government is Watching You and Your Money (CTR’s, Taxes, Search and Seizure),” “Internet Gaming,” “Indian Gaming,” “The Casino Boom” and “The Federal Gaming Commission.”

Prof. I. Nelson Rose is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on gambling law. He is the author of more than 1,500 columns, articles and book chapters on the subject. Robert A. Loeb is a Chicago based attorney who has represented many card-counters in various legal disputes, as well as being a player.

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I. Nelson Rose

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