Table game supplier MAO Gaming is suing Penn Entertainment’s Ameristar Casino in Colorado over trademark infringement.
MAO claims Ameristar has been using blackjack tables that contain MAO’s marks unlawfully. This lawsuit says it’s been happening for two years.
Lawsuit claims Ameristar knew it was infringing
Colorado boasts more than 40 casinos. All of them are in the three mountain towns of Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City. Online casinos in Colorado are illegal, but that could change in the near future.
The trademark that Ameristar allegedly infringed upon is the Streak side bet on MAO Gaming-approved blackjack tables. The Streak side bet is a wager on how many consecutive times a player will be dealt blackjack. Blackjack is easily one of the most popular table games in the country. MAO considers the Streak side bet “one of the most successful casino table games ever developed.”
According to the filing with the US Court for the District of Colorado, the lawyers for MAO explained their reason to sue:
“After almost fifteen (15) years of annually-renewed licensed use at Ameristar Casino Black Hawk, PENN knowingly, intentionally and willfully ignored its contractual obligations and infringed on MAO’s iconic STREAK® brand by facilitating unlicensed STREAK® blackjack table games – one of the most successful casino table games ever developed.”
Colorado has rules when using Streak tables
The company claims the Streak side bet is only allowed if licensed and made available by MAO Gaming. To add such a game, the blackjack table layout must be set up in a particular way. According to the Colorado Casino Gaming Commission, this is the specific method that must be followed for casinos to offer Streak with their blackjack offerings:
“STREAK may be played only on tables displaying the approved STREAK table layout and equipped with one approved STREAK button for each player’s position. The button shall have distinctive markings as specified by MAO Gaming and shall display the name or logo of the retail licensee offering the game.”
The fact that all of this is contractual, and all parties are supposed to be aware, MAO Gaming is claiming that these actions are “willful and intentional,” according to the court filing.
“These circumstances legitimize the categorization of Ameristar/PENN’s actions as willful and intentional. This begins with the fact PENN’s business is casino gaming operations; it continues with the fact that Ameristar/PENN agreed via contract that all STREAK® products were the exclusive property of MAO, which they had no right to use without a license; it continues with the fact that Ameristar/PENN stipulated via contract that if they utilized STREAK® without a license, their conduct constituted willful infringement.”
The lawsuit says Ameristar not only knew about its infringement, it continued to offer Streak at its tables anyway.
MAO Gaming says Ameristar lied to regulators
If Ameristar Casino did use the Streak tables without permission, there is not much it can argue. If Ameristar did so with knowledge that it was in violation, things could only get worse.
MAO made it clear in its filing that it would be “impossible” for Ameristar to be unaware that it must have a license from MAO to use Streak tables.
MAO claims that the casino took part in “deceptive practices” by making “inaccurate market statements” to keep using Streak without approval.
“PENN’s conduct required it to engage in deceptive practices with the Colorado Gaming Commission and make inaccurate market statements about the alleged regulatory compliance of its casino operations. PENN’s statements regarding its core business endeavors were disclosed to the market under its reporting and transparency obligations as a publicly traded company.”