Riverboat Casinos Sue ShuffleMaster Makers Over “Sham Lawsuits”

The makers of ShuffleMaster card shuffling machines, Scientific Games, are being sued by two riverboat casinos for allegedly using fraudulently obtained patents and using sham lawsuits to gain and maintain a monopoly on the $multi-million automatic card shuffler market.

By: Andrew Burnett

Vegas-based Scientific Games, who provide gambling products and services, along with their subsidiaries Bally Technologies and Bally Gaming, are facing a class action anti-trust lawsuit in Chicago, Illinois.

The legal action has been brought by the operating companies behind Casino Queen, a riverboat casino located near the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Illinois, and Casino Queen Marquette, a 17,514 square feet riverboat casino located in Marquette, Iowa.

The lawsuit centres around the estimated $100 million per year market for automatic casino card shufflers, with allegations that Scientific Games Corporation companies have “procured patents by fraud and then asserted those patents in sham lawsuits against competitors, which effectively excluded competitors from the market.”

The riverboat casinos contend that the makers of Shuffle Master, DeckMate, and Bally’s branded automatic shufflers have built their industry monopoly on the back of dubious patents and frivolous lawsuits.

One of these lawsuits, in 2018, saw a Chicago jury return a $315 million verdict against Scientific Games Corp, following a lawsuit they filed in 2012 alleging that would-be competitors, Shuffle Tech, was using its patented technology without authorization.

Later settled out of court, that case was only one of many that ensured Scientific Games retained market dominance, but it also followed years of claims that Scientific Games had defrauded the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The current legal action alleges “purposeful abuse of the patent program and the judicial approach,” with a “pattern of suing would-be competitors to enforce patents Defendant knew would not have issued had they not concealed the prior art from the [USPTO].”

Those claims may now be litigated in the current case brought by the riverboat casinos, with Scientific Games yet to publicly comment on the lawsuit.


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