Station Casinos has decided to discontinue the bad beat jackpot promotions at its casinos a month after the Nevada Gaming Control Board ruled that the company had to pay out a disputed jackpot.
The controversy dates back to July 7th, when a $120,000 bad beat jackpot was hit at the Red Rock Casino, one of Station’s properties in the Las Vegas area. Len Schreter had the top end of a straight flush while Avi Shamir had the low end. This would normally spell disaster for Shamir, but they were in a bad beat jackpot game, which meant that Shamir won about $60,000 for having such an amazing hand lose and Schreter. The more than 80 players active at bad beat jackpot tables at Station’s other casinos also stood to share in the rest of the jackpot.
Red Rock management, though, ruled that because Schreter had, in his excitement, accidentally revealed his cards out of the turn on the river, the jackpot was nullified. Part of the promotions rules states that “discussion of hands during the play by players, at the discretion of management, may void a Jumbo Hold ‘Em Jackpot,” which is what management believed happened.
Everyone who witnessed the hand agreed that Schreter’s actions had no effect on the outcome of the hand, but management wouldn’t budge. Schreter, Shamir, and a couple other players filed complaints to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. An NGCB investigator agreed with the players and the Board ruled in December that the casino must pay the jackpot, but Station appealed the ruling.
In February, the players won the appeal and Station Casinos opted not to appeal to the Clark County District Court and just pay the jackpot.
“The player-funded bad-beat jackpot had always been ready for payment pending the GCB’s decision,” Station’s Lori Nelson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The three players who filed a claim were paid in accordance with standard Gaming Control Board procedures. Additionally, we have been distributing jackpot awards to all of the qualified poker players who participated, not just the three who filed a claim.”
Many – including yours truly – wondered why Station Casinos would go to such lengths to avoid paying out the jackpot. As Nelson said, the bad beat jackpot was player-funded via additional rake, so Station was out no money. The one possibility that might exist is that the six-figure jackpot attracted a lot of poker players hoping to get lucky and that if it was reset, poker room traffic would decrease. Conventional wisdom, though, has been that the bad publicity from challenging the jackpot would hurt Station.
And it seems like it has. Nelson wouldn’t tell the Review-Journal is player traffic has changed. Michael Bluestein, one of the players who filed the complaint, said he isn’t playing at Station casinos as much as he used to and the Review-Journal added that other players have said that it looks like the poker room isn’t as busy as it was. Then again, that could just be because the jackpot is no longer over $100,000.