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Playboy-Elsinore Associates v. Strauss

February 22, 1983


Perskie, J.s.c.


This matter presents for determination on first impression questions relating to the construction and application of that portion of the Casino Control Act which regulates the granting and issuance of credit at New Jersey casinos.*fn1 The parties have each moved for summary judgment, asserting the lack of any genuine issue of material fact. A review of the pleadings and affidavits submitted incident to the moving papers establishes that the issue is ripe for determination on a motion for summary judgment. R. 4:46-2; Judson v. People's Bank and Trust Co. of Westfield, 17 N.J. 67, 74 (1955).

The essential facts are not in dispute. On or about May 2, 1981 defendant applied for, and was granted, a "line of credit" at the casino hotel operated by plaintiff in Atlantic City. A "line of credit" approved by a casino hotel permits a patron to

receive, in accordance with established statutory and regulatory procedures, "cash or cash equivalents" in exchange for a personal check issued to the casino hotel. In this instance defendant sought and received a line of credit in the amount of $40,000.

Thereafter, defendant issued eight checks drawn against this line of credit. Each of the eight checks was in the sum of $5,000. Two of such checks were executed on January 10, 1982, four on January 22, 1982 and the remaining two on January 26, 1982. Each of the eight checks was executed at the gaming table where the defendant was gambling, and each was subsequently deposited and presented for payment by plaintiff. Each of the eight checks was, in due course, returned to plaintiff by defendant's bank marked "insufficient funds," and plaintiff's complaint seeking collection of the $40,000 debt evidenced by the checks ensued.

Plaintiff has established that the procedure then (as now) in effect at its casino hotel for the issuance of credit had previously been submitted to, and approved by, the Casino Control Commission, in accordance with the provisions of the Casino Control Act requiring prior approval of all systems of internal procedures and administrative and accounting controls, including, with particularity, "procedures for the cashing and recordation of checks exchanged by casino patrons."*fn2 In relevant part, the procedure is as follows:

1. A patron at a gaming table who desires to request an advance against a previously established line of credit notifies the dealer, who calls the pit clerk (sometimes also called a casino clerk). This pit clerk, or casino clerk, is a part of the accounting department, not a part of casino operations, and is accountable to the accounting department.

2. A patron completes a request slip setting forth his name, his mother's maiden name (apparently for purposes of identification), patron's date of birth, and the amount of credit requested. The pit clerk checks to verify that credit in this sum is available.

3. A counter check is prepared by the clerk in the pit, either manually or by computer. The clerk completes the check except for the patron's signature, presents it to the patron, and receives the signed counter check from the patron.

4. The counter check is prepared in an original and four duplicates, each completed simultaneously. The original, a redemption copy, and an acknowledgment copy are each sent to the casino cashier through a pneumatic tube process. An accounting copy is retained by the pit clerk. The last copy, the "issuance copy", is given to the dealer or boxman, who lays it out on the table, exchanges the copy for chips, deposits the issuance copy into his cash drop box at the table, and transfers the chips in question to the patron.

The applicable portion of the statute*fn3 provides as follows:

No casino licensee . . . may accept a check . . . from any person to enable such person to take part in gaming activity as a player, or may give cash or cash equivalents in exchange for such check unless:

(1) The check is made payable to the casino licensee;

(2) The check is dated, but not post-dated;

(3) The check is presented to the cashier or his representative and exchanged only for a credit slip or slips which total an amount equal to the amount for which the check is drawn, which slip or slips may be presented for chips at a gaming table; and

(4) The regulations concerning check cashing procedures are observed by the casino licensee and its employees and agents.

The Casino Control Commission, pursuant to statutory mandate,*fn4 has adopted regulations governing check cashing procedures. In relevant part, the regulations in ...

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