More than 2,100 people who played in a poker tournament where fake chips were discovered will see a refund from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
After a three-month investigation, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement issued an order Monday, allowing $1.7 million in prize money and refunds to be distributed to almost half of the people who entered the January contest.
The investigation found that Borgata properly monitored the tournament and was not at fault.
Meanwhile, officials acknowledged that the scam still may lead to other regulatory changes. Unprompted by regulators, Borgata has already begun using new high-tech tournament chips that can be detected with an ultraviolet light.
“The division is engaged in an industry-wide comprehensive review of all the existing tournament standards and those related to future tournament events,” DGE spokeswoman Kerry Langan said.
Event 1 of Borgata’s Winter Open was halted Jan. 18 after it was discovered that hundreds of fake chips had been put in play. Christian Lusardi was charged with rigging a public contest after he allegedly flushed chips with a $2.7 million tournament value down a toilet in another Atlantic City casino, clogging the plumbing and leading to his discovery.
Borgata and state regulators both issued documents Monday containing lengthy explanations of how refunds and prize money will be distributed.
Three venues at Borgata were used during the tournament, and players’ locations are tracked throughout play. The casino and regulators have determined that anyone who played in the same venue and session as Lusardi is entitled to a refund.
“Based on our documents and assessments, we know exactly what rooms Christian Lusardi played in. Therefore, we can determine where he may have unlawfully entered the chips into play,” Borgata Senior Vice President Joe Lupo said.
To enter the contest, players paid a $560 fee, representing a $500 contribution to the prize pool and $60 in revenue to Borgata.
The investigation determined that 2,143 people who did not finish in the top 450 may have been impacted by Lusardi’s counterfeit chips. Those players will all be refunded $560 within 10 business days, according to Borgata’s explanation. Another 2,143 participants could not have come into contact with Lusardi’s chips and therefore will not receive refunds, the casino said.
At the time that the tournament was halted in January, 27 players were still active. Those players will each receive $19,323 from the prize pool.
Entrants who finished between 28th and 450th have already received prize money and will not receive any further disbursements, the casino said. A handful of those players had not retrieved their winnings from the cage at the time the tournament was frozen will now be paid.
State regulators ordered Borgata to freeze the $1.4 million in prize money that remained at the time the tournament was halted. The refunds that will be issued include the prize money as well as $288,720 in revenue to Borgata from the entrance fees.
The DGE did not require Borgata to return the revenue, but the casino made the decision to do so.
“As the premiere poker facility we are very unhappy about the inconvenience this caused so many of our local customers,” Lupo said. “It was only right to give back the revenue Borgata would have seen.”
Langan said the DGE’s actions Monday conclude its investigation into the breach. Lusardi’s criminal case remains open.