Man Files Suit Against Florida Casino Alleging Unfair Trade Practices

Written By David Blicksilver on January 18, 2023
Florida man sues Magic City over kiosks not giving exact change

A Florida man has filed suit against Magic City Casino. The Miami-area venue is accused of breaking Florida law by “manipulating the cash-out system” on its slots and kiosks.  

Man alleges casino doesn’t inform patrons of coin shortage

Native American tribes operate all seven Florida casinos. As a result, Magic City Casino is a casino in name only. Technically, it’s a pari-mutuel facility.

The Miami-area venue features a poker room, jai-alai competitions and slot machines. It doesn’t have the house-backed table games found at casinos owned by the Seminole Tribe. Before 2005, slot machines were off-limits for pari-mutuels. But now they are allowed at properties in Broward and Miami-Dade County. Broward County voters approved a ballot initiative in 2005 to allow slot machines at pari-mutuels, and Miami-Dade voters followed suit three years later.

The plaintiff, 71-year-old Nicolas Manzini, filed the 17-page lawsuit in the 11th Circuit Court against West Flagler Associates, the owner of Magic City Casino. In the filing, Manzini notes the nationwide coin shortage that has impacted businesses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manzini also notes that other casinos have made adaptations and informed gamblers that due to the shortage, they might not be able to pay out exact change. He says Magic City has not done so. 

This is the second lawsuit West Flagler is involved in. The Havenick family-owned group filed the lawsuit that invalidated the 2021 Florida gaming compact and shuttered the Florida sports betting industry. It also owns Bonita Springs Poker Room but is currently trying to sell Magic City Casino to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

Man says signs should be in Spanish and English

Electronic slot machines at Magic City will issue a voucher when a player decides to cash out. The player can then take the voucher to one of the kiosks where it is redeemed for cash. However, those kiosks do not issue coins. Instead, they print out a second voucher that must be taken to the cashier’s cage to redeem. 

The only signage the casino has posted about it is a small sign near some of the kiosks, Manzini alleges. He says the sign is only in English despite the fact Miami-Dade County has a large Spanish-speaking community. He claims many gamblers at the casino do not speak English.

There are similar suits in Louisiana and Mississippi

Manzini has been a regular at the casino for years and went three times at the end of October. Twice, he took vouchers to the cashier’s cage to get his exact change, totaling $1.45. Manzini says he is a “chronic diabetic suffering from kidney disease, partial blindness and acute osteomyelitis and lymphangitis in both legs.” His filing didn’t indicate how long he waited in line. His suit claims:

“For the last few years, the casino has been keeping the change off of hundreds of thousands of gaming vouchers, essentially robbing its customers a few cents at a time, on millions of transactions.”

Manzini is considering pursuing class-action status for his lawsuit, saying the casino is in violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.  

Manzini is requesting to bring the case before a jury. He hopes the court will order Magic City to stop its current voucher process, issue gamblers refunds and pay compensatory damages.

In September, both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment faced similar lawsuits in Mississippi and Louisiana, respectively. Both plaintiffs alleged similar practices to the one filed against Magic City. They have retained the same Louisiana-based firm, Sternberg, Naccari and White. 

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David Blicksilver

David Blicksilver is a graduate of Hofstra University where he majored in Journalism. He has worked in press offices for NYRA and at Garden City High School where he graduated. His interests include horse racing, traveling and playing golf.

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