SUSPICIONS that I am not well and truly committed to the cause of the oppressed will surely be evaporated by the intensity with which I support Kenneth Uston, who was ejected from the Resorts International casino in Atlantic City for playing blackjack too well.
I would sign petitions for Uston, perhaps even legibly. I would march in any demonstration for him - any demonstration, at least, that was held in a place reasonably convenient to my neighborhood and was organized in a way that assured protection from hooligans head by the forces of reaction. If Uston were in need of financial aid, I would throw my home open for a cocktail party to benefit his legal defense fund - a statement I make knowing full well that the ACLU is bearing the costs of his litigation and that Uston himself won $43,000 in Atlantic City before Resorts International wised up and showed him the door. Were I asked by the Kenneth Uston Defense Committee to display some symbol of my commitment - assuming, of course, that the request was made in a polite manner and that the symbol in question was of tasteful design - I would be proud to wear a button that said LET USTON PLAY or DON'T HASSLE THE ATLANTIC CITY ONE.
I take this stand, I might add, without having anything to gain personally from seeing justice triumph in Uston's case. This is not like those intellectuals supporting Larry Flynt on the proposition that once the prosecuting attorney of Fulton County has whetted his teeth on Hustler he will inevitably turn his attention to lyric poetry or essays comparing Christopher Marlowe to the early films of Wallance Beery.
Uston is what is known as a card-counter: He reduce the house odds in blackjack by remembering how many face-cards have been played and betting accordingly. I am not a card-counter. I think I can say, without intending any disrespect to the oppressed Uston, that I don't even particulary like card-counters. I rank them with diet-balancers and budget-makers and trim-and-gutter-maintainers as people who seem to take pleasure in behaving in ways that remind me what I would be doinng if I were a person of somewhat better character.
My support of Uston, then is based on no bias in his favour but simply on the belief that he is being penalized for doing what all Americans are constantly exhorted to do - learning to play the game better than anyone else plays it. Nobody has accused him of using trick decks or concealed mirror. He has not been charged with bribing barmaids to corrupt dealers. He stands accused of skill in his chosen game."
If Resorts International had been acting on its own, I think I could remain calm - all of us supporters of the oppressed having grown accustomed to acts of greed and even piracy by corporations. But the caino management was acting under the explicit authorization of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. According to The New York Times, the commission chairman explained that "he felt that casino companies would not seek licenses, which would cut state taxes and that the economic revival of Alantic City." The state, in other words, has a stake in seeing to it that it's citizen are systematically relieved of their paychecks by a gambling casino. A plumber from Bayonne who comes out ahead after a day at the blackjack table may have a warm glow on for a while, but he has acted contrary to the public policy of the state of New Jersey. He would, I suppose, be guilty of undermining his state even further by driving home at a lawful speed - depriving New Jersey of needed revenue it might obtain from a speeding fine.
The state gave Resorts Internatioal permission to post a sign near the gaming tables that says WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO EXCLUDE PROFESSIONAL CARD COUNTERS FROM PLAY AT OUR BLACKJACK TABLES. The word "professional" is obviously meant to carry with it some justification for the ban: the other folks are welcome because they're just having a good time. The owners of Resorts International are having a particularly good time; in their effort to help the state along financially and receive Atlantic City, they expects to take a quarter of abillion dollars off the suckers this year. With that kind of money, they should be able to hire a sign-writer who has not suffer from prolixity. The sign banning card-counters should say simply LOSERS ONLY.