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Court revives Vermont man’s lawsuit over canceled poker tournament

Gambling chips stacked on a table at the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Wayne Parry / AP, File

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey appeals court has revived a lawsuit by a Vermont man who traveled to an Atlantic City casino for a poker tournament that wound up being canceled.

Michael Bandler said in the lawsuit that he traveled to the Golden Nugget in early 2015 after seeing advertisements that the tournament would offer $150,000 in prize money.

The tournament started, but was canceled by the casino due to a low number of registered players. Bandler was given a small amount of prize money for winning one of the events. His lawsuit claims the casino’s advertising was misleading and violated state consumer fraud laws.

The casino argued the state Division of Gaming Enforcement has jurisdiction over casino advertising, preempting consumer fraud laws. The casino also argued the ad’s fine print said the tournament could be canceled at any time, and didn’t say the money was guaranteed.

A lower court dismissed the lawsuit but the appeals court reversed on Wednesday, with the panel writing that consumer fraud laws apply and that “the casino omitted stating it intended to pay $150,000 only so long as enough people signed up, and the only indirect reference to that intent was the disputed disclaimer in small print about official rules and the right to change or cancel the event.”

A message seeking comment was left with the casino.

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