The rules of Sabacc might not have been said in Solo A Star Wars Story, but one thing is clear: Cheating is not allowed. The events of the card game at the Lodge at Fort Ypso raise complex issues of remedies with games of chance. Spoilers ahead.
Han Solo induced Lando Calrissian to bet the Millennium Falcon in a game of Sabacc against Han’s VCX-100. First problem: Han did not have a VCX-100. Second problem: the Falcon was impounded. Third problem: Lando cheated by having a card up his sleeve.
I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
Han’s Bluff on Having a VCX-100
Han claimed he had a VCX-100 (the same class as the Ghost in Star Wars Rebels), as his bet to induce Lando to call with the Falcon. This technically is fraud, because it was a material misrepresentation of fact. Gambling laws in the District of Columbia state that anyone by fraud who wins a game above the value of $25 shall forfeit five times the value of the item or cash one, and be deemed “infamous.” D.C. Code § 16-1704. That could have been a problem if Han had won, but for Lando’s cheating, Han lost. This is sort of legally a wash, as Han technically did not violate the statute and also lost all of his credits to Lando.
Lando has a full house of legal issues with his Sabacc bet. The first is whether he could have lawfully bet the Falcon, since it was impounded. While the bet of the vehicle was likely proper, he did not disclose it had been impounded, requiring an unknown fine to be paid in order for it to be released.
Lando had a device strapped to his wrist with a trump card that would enable him to beat other card players. This is the very definition of cheating. California has declared it is unlawful to cheat at any gambling game in any gambling establishment. Cal. Penal Code § 337x. The Lodge would qualify as a gambling establishment that allows Sacbacc games. It is further unlawful to alter the random selection of gambling games that determine the outcome of the game. Using a device to add a card clearly changed the outcome of the Sacbacc game and eliminated random selection of the cards. Cal. Penal Code § 337y(b)(2). The punishment for cheating is a jail term of at least one year or fine up to $10,000 for the first offense and one year and/or $15,000 fine for a second offense. Cal. Penal Code § 337z.
The only reason Lando won the game of Sabacc was because he cheated. The game was not “fair and square” and would result in criminal prosecution if discovered.
Han would have a difficult time suing Lando for the Falcon for Lando’s cheating. California has a public policy against using the courts to recover for gambling losses from alleged “rigged” games. Kelly v. First Astri Corp., 72 Cal. App. 4th 462, 482-83, (1999). As such, there is no real judicial relief for Han’s gambling losses to Lando.
Know When to Fold Them
Han Solo had a rematch with Lando where his buy in was a drop of Coaxium. More importantly for Han, he discovered Lando means of cheating. Han successfully won the Millennium Falcon “fair and square” without using Lando’s card to cheat. This was a sweet turn of justice in depriving Lando of his means of cheating.
Pretty sue Han let Lando remove his capes before taking possession of the ship.