Where Are The Self Bet Machines?

by Ed Meyer

posted on November 30, 2008 in General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

Thirty-five tellers at the Meadowlands Racetrack and off-track betting parlors are suing a worldwide supplier of betting terminals and systems, claiming its machines have caused them serious injury.

Employees of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which runs the track and parlors, brought the suit in state Superior Court in Essex County in September.

The defendant, Scientific Games Racing of Georgia, last week moved to have the case transferred to U.S. District Court in Newark, citing federal jurisdiction because it is an out-of-state party in a controversy exceeding $75,000.

SGR provides services, computer systems and wagering devices to enable parimutuel betting worldwide, and it counts more than 100 North American racetracks and off-track wagering networks among its customers.

In court papers, SGR said the plaintiffs’ suit, “while groundless, alleges that they suffered ‘severe and permanent injuries’ while using a machine manufactured, designed and/or sold by defendant.”

Nine of the plaintiffs’ husbands or wives are also suing for “loss of their spouses’ aid, comfort, conjugal, fellowship and consortium” as a result of the claimed injuries.

David W. Fields, an attorney for SGR, said he was not aware of other suits claiming injury by the machines, nor did he know what type of injury is alleged.

“The complaint is not very specific,” he said. “Usually, they say what’s wrong with the people. There’s 35 tellers and a dozen or so spouses, and not one of them identifies an injury.

“So it’s hard to identify not only what are they claiming is wrong with them, but what are they claiming is wrong with the equipment.”

William L. Gold, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said Thursday that his clients have suffered a variety of injuries since the sports authority switched the type of machines the tellers use this year.

“When they switched it, people started to get injuries in their back, shoulder, arm and neck because the machines forced them to get into funny positions to take the money and give the tickets and such,” said Gold.

“It appears these machines were intended to be machines that the bettors would use individually and not require a teller’s assistance. Instead, the Meadowlands put them into the tellers’ booths, and the tellers have difficulty using them,” he said.

He said they are seeking damages for pain and suffering and inability to use their arms, and pointed out that some tellers would require surgery.

One of the plaintiffs, Gerald Capo, 55, of Garfield, said the repetitive strain from reaching and bending to complete hundreds of transactions a shift, caused him painful arm and shoulder injuries that forced him to miss work for about a month.

“When you do 800 transactions, that’s a lot of work, a lot of reaching, a lot of repetitive movements,” said Capo, who has worked at the racetrack for 18 years.