NJ Harrah's Casinos to Pay $8M for Misleading Advertising

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on September 29, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Failing to honor $15 vouchers may cost Harrah's Casino $8 million for misleading advertising. The Harrah's Casinos class action was brought by some birthday club members that were "tricked" by a promotion.

A very happy belated birthday may be on the way for 80,000 members of Harrah's Total Rewards club. The club members that were part of the Harrah's Casinos class action are set to receive a $100 in the mail. The birthday vouchers were not misleading in the amount or the purpose, but in the timing of when they could be redeemed. Press of Atlantic City reports that because the ads did not explicitly state that the $15 vouchers could not be redeemed until after 8 a.m. on the days in question, the birthday cash was a form of misleading advertising.

The false advertising suit has been seven years in the making and lead by a very unhappy birthday girl that did not want to wait until the early morning hours to redeem her voucher. 43 year-old class representative Debra Smerling is quoted in the Press of Atlantic City, "Up until then, I was pretty much a faithful Harrah's customer. I have no relationship with Harrah's now. I will not be their customer ever again. Not only for what they did, but because they refuse to do the right thing."

Hoping that lady luck will ultimately be on their side, Harrah's plans to appeal the unfavorable decision. Arguing that the voucher did list where it had to be redeemed (which then had office hours listed at the location) was enough to defeat the suit. In any misleading or false advertising case, the advertiser's intent (Harrah's Casino) is not the relevant inquiry. Rather, the court is looking at the overall impression conveyed to the consumer. Here, it is easy to see the argument that Harrah's was not trying to limit use of the vouchers by giving a narrow window to redeem. But, as many gamblers stay out until the wee hours of the morning, the impression that members of the suit got from the timing limitations was the argument the court found more convincing.

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