Antar Takes Case Against BetMGM For Alleged Deceptive Practices To Appeals Court

Erik Gibbs

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Disgraced financier Sam A. Antar’s case against BetMGM has advanced to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals following a dismissal by the New Jersey District Court earlier this year.

Antar, who alleges that he wagered nearly $30 million between 2019 and 2020, asserts that he was deliberately enticed to gamble at Borgata Casino and through BetMGM’s online platforms despite being a known problem gambler. His claims have put a spotlight on the responsibilities and ethical practices of gambling operators in dealing with vulnerable individuals.

Antar, who is no stranger to high-profile legal battles, argues that BetMGM and its associated entities neglected their duty of care by encouraging his gambling habits. According to Antar, the VIP hosts at Borgata Casino were fully aware of his problematic gambling behavior yet continued to solicit him. This, he contends, led to his staggering gambling losses.

His argument hinges on the premise that the operators prioritized profit over the well-being of their patrons, thus violating ethical standards and potentially legal statutes. He has also accused BetMGM of intentionally experiencing “technical issues” just as he was about to win.

The core of Antar’s lawsuit rests on accusations that the online casino site BetMGM engaged in deceptive practices, allegedly contravening the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). However, this argument encountered a significant setback in February when Judge Madeline Cox Arleo of the New Jersey District Court dismissed the case.

Let the CCA decide

Judge Arleo concluded that the CFA was not the appropriate legal framework for the dispute. Instead, she pointed to the New Jersey Casino Control Act (CCA) as the pertinent legislation.

Judge Arleo’s ruling underscored the regulatory complexity surrounding gambling operations and consumer protection. She determined that the CCA, which provides a comprehensive regulatory framework for casinos and related activities in New Jersey, should be the guiding legislation. The CCA encompasses provisions specifically designed to address issues related to casino operations, including the protection of patrons and the enforcement of responsible gambling measures.

Antar’s case is significant as it highlights the broader issue of responsible gambling practices within the industry. The outcome could influence how casinos and online gambling platforms nationwide approach the issue of problem gambling. If the appeals court sides with Antar, it could lead to stricter regulatory oversight and more robust safeguards for vulnerable gamblers.

The appeals process will likely delve into detailed examinations of BetMGM’s practices and the extent of their knowledge regarding Antar’s gambling problems. It will also explore the efficacy and sufficiency of existing regulatory frameworks in protecting consumers from potential exploitation.

From riches to rags

Antar, once a prominent figure in the investment community, is launching his appeal while serving time behind bars. In April 2022, Antar admitted to defrauding investors, many of whom were part of a Syrian Jewish community in New Jersey, of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailed that Antar had falsely promised to invest in shares of companies that were not yet public, assuring a quick resale at a premium. Instead, the funds were diverted to personal use, including gambling, family gifts, and even funding his daughter’s wedding.

The SEC’s litigation release revealed that Antar never invested the funds as promised. The final judgment enjoined Antar from violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and ordered him to pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest, with allowances for offsets against a restitution order in a parallel criminal action.

Antar’s criminal activities did not go unnoticed. The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Criminal Justice brought charges against him, leading to a guilty plea on some of the charges and a subsequent three-year prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay restitution, although this amount pales in comparison to the total funds misappropriated.

The narrative of Antar’s criminal endeavors is intertwined with the infamous legacy of his uncle, Eddie Antar, known for the “Crazy Eddie” electronics retail chain and its eventual collapse under fraud charges. Sam A. Antar’s actions have often been compared to those of his uncle, drawing parallels between their fraudulent activities and the consequent legal consequences they faced.

Currently, Sam A. Antar is serving his sentence at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He is expected to be released sometime next year.