Rudy Feuerschutz, a Chesapeake resident and a black card-privileged member of the Rivers Casino Portsmouth, has been banned for life from the casino for allegedly engaging in loan sharking activities. He denies any wrongdoing and says he only loaned money to his friends without charging any interest.
Feuerschutz told 10 On Your Side that he learned about his ban three weeks ago, after a night of playing blackjack at the casino. He said a person in casino security told him the reason was “possible loansharking”. He also said that his friend, who was with him at the casino, was banned for the same reason.
Feuerschutz said he was shocked and confused by the accusation, as he had never charged anyone interest for lending money. He said he only helped out his friends who needed some cash for a double-down hand or a tip. He said there were no signs in the casino that prohibited loaning money to other players.
He wrote an appeal letter to the Rivers Casino Portsmouth Ban Committee, explaining his situation and providing the definition of loan sharking, which is “lending money at extremely high interest rates”. He also asked for evidence of his alleged violation, but he said he never received a response from the casino.
What does the casino say?
10 On Your Side contacted the Rivers Casino Portsmouth for an explanation, but the casino did not answer specific questions about Feuerschutz’s case. Instead, it issued a statement saying:
“Like most large-scale entertainment venues, we are committed to prioritizing a standard of conduct that preserves our guest experience. The guidelines for determining what behaviors are unacceptable at casinos in the Commonwealth of Virginia are determined by the Virginia Lottery Board and the casino operator.”
The statement did not mention anything about loan sharking or how it is defined by the casino or the Virginia Lottery Board. It also did not say how many people have been banned from the casino for similar reasons or how they can appeal their bans.
What are the legal implications?
According to Virginia law, loan sharking is a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. However, the law also specifies that loan sharking involves charging interest rates that exceed 12% per year or 36% per year for payday loans.
Feuerschutz said he never charged any interest to his friends, let alone such high rates. He said he did not break any law or any casino rule. He said he felt discriminated and harassed by the casino staff, who treated him like a criminal.
He said he is considering taking legal action against the casino for defamation and false accusation. He said he has hired a lawyer to represent him and to help him get his ban lifted. He said he wants to clear his name and reputation, as well as to enjoy his favorite hobby again.
He also said he hopes that other players who have been banned for similar reasons will come forward and share their stories. He said he believes that the casino is abusing its power and authority to ban people without due process or evidence.