Poker Player Robbins Drops Lawsuit Against Borgata
There are certain things that are generally not funny. A person walking through an airport should not joke about carrying a bomb. A visitor to a hospital should not joke about death. A person staying in a high-rise hotel should not joke about committing suicide.
However, poker player Scott Robbins says he did no such thing. When he did make the comment about jumping out of a window at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, the property took it out of context and took him seriously. Robbins insisted he was joking with regard to an emergency exit. The Borgata didn’t think it was funny and issued a lifetime ban.
Things got complicated from there.
But now, Robbins is voluntarily dropping a lawsuit against the Borgata noting an amicable adjustment to the situation.
(Author note: The original introduction to this article assumed that Robbins did joke about suicide. He repeatedly insists that he did not, as he attempted to only joke about jumping from a window in case of a fire or other emergency. According to him, the Borgata misread his comments entirely. I apologize to Scott Robbins for the unfair bias in my original intro.)
What Had Happened Was…
Scott Robbins of Massachusetts is a professional poker player. Any cash game or online poker play is not on record, though his live poker tournament earnings date back to the beginning of 2018 and total nearly $426K.
According to court filings, it all started in September 2019. Robbins had won a satellite to play in a $3,500 buy-in tournament at the casino; it was the WPT Borgata Poker Open. He played a $400 satellite and won his seat, so he drove from Massachusetts on September 14 to check in to the Borgata’s hotel. He had booked a room online for nearly $350 so he would be on site for the start of the tournament two days later.
When Robbins stepped to the front desk to check in to his room, the clerk asked if he wanted a room on a high or low floor. He said, “If I had to jump from a high floor window, would I make it?” He later claimed that he was referring to jumping from a window in the case of an emergency, like a fire.
The Borgata employee told him not to jump, and he said, “I won’t.” However, he kept going by asking, “Would I make it if I had to jump out of a lower floor?” When she again said he shouldn’t do that, he responded, “Since I wouldn’t survive either, I guess it doesn’t matter what floor you give me.” He claimed to be laughing with other people nearby as the clerk assigned him to a room on the 30th floor.
As he settled into his room, Robbins said that an armed security team came to his door to ensure that he was not a danger to himself. The Borgata security team decided that he needed a psychiatric evaluation before being allowed to stay at the hotel. He willingly got into an ambulance to go to the Atlnticare Regional Medical Center, where he saw a psychiatrist. He then received a psychiatric clearance as not a person of danger to himself or others, and he returned to the Borgata. He then discovered that the hotel staff had removed his belongings from the room and ordered him to leave the Borgata. They also told him that he was banned for life from the property.
Robbins determined that the Borgata owed him:
-$400 for the satellite tournament
-$500 for the trip from Massachusetts to New Jersey
-$346.75 for the hotel room
-$1,157 for the ambulance ride
-$865 for hospital expenses
-$500 for other lodging and a return to Massachusetts
-$85K per year in estimated lost earnings by not being able to play at the Borgata
-$850K in estimated lost earnings for the next 10 years of being banned from the Borgata
-$200K in estimated lost poker sponsorships
-$200K in punitive and “yet un-ascertained compensatory damages”
In total, Robbins concluded that the Borgata owed him $1,253,368.75 in damages. Not only did he contend that his future poker earnings were severely limited by the lifetime ban, he accused Borgata employees of publicly saying that Robbins was banned for a suicide attempt. He claims that information spread through the professional poker circuit and damaged his reputation.
The counts against the Borgata included the non-payment of the $1.2M amount Robbins determined he was owed, the non-rendering of goods and services, breach of contracts (both real and implied), unjust enrichment, detrimental reliance, violation of public trust and policy, violation of civil rights, defamation, slander, libel, negligent and reckless infliction of emotional distress, interference with prospective economic advantage, false imprisonment, and more. Robbins’ case detailed 28 counts against the Borgata.
Robbins filed the original civil case in the Superior Court of New Jersey in June, but he then refiled it with the US District Court of New Jersey in mid-July.
On September 9, 2021, Robbins voluntarily dismissed the case with prejudice. This means that he can never revisit the issue in the court in the future. It appeared that Robbins and the Borgata reached some type of settlement agreement.
“In this matter all claims having been amicably adjusted by and between the parties, it is hereby stipulated and agreed that any and all claims, cross-claims, counterclaims, and third-party claims asserted by or between the undersigned parties be and are hereby dismissed with prejudice and without costs.”
The US District Court recorded that document on September 20.
It is unclear if the lifetime ban remains in place.