Cheating Does it Really Happen in Casinos

Cheating Does it Really Happen

Not always a subject spoken about but within the industry it happens, wherever there is money, temptation is not far away. This is a subject that I know very little about so I have asked a few people to contribute.John Connolly has kindly granted permission to publish some articles from his blog

The Dealer was being ridiculed. By John Connolly

The dealer was being ridiculed.


On opening the mini baccarat table at the beginning of his shift, the dealer was being ridiculed by the rest of the gaming staff, as he had just dropped the shoe and six decks of cards which spilled onto the floor. As punishment the pit boss made him to pick everything up alone and sort out the cards for the start of play.

The manager whose responsibility it was to start the video recording at the start of the gaming day had formed a habit of doing this late, on this occasion just late enough, so that the dealer had time to sort the cards in an order that would create a perfect losing baccarat shoe. The senior management were engaged in their once monthly meeting in the board room when a request was brought by the shift manager that the players, (a new member and five of his guests) had requested the higher limit, which belonged to the large baccarat table, which only opened in the evenings. Fortunately the request was refused as this would have certainly led to even more losses. By the time the meeting was over so too was the mini baccarat game and the players had walked away 75,000 pounds richer. Suspicion had fallen onto the gaming staff involved but without the proof of the camera recording of the shuffle, it was believed at the time that it was difficult to prove any wrong-doing. Although nearly twenty years have passed since then, there existed a belief even then, that if video proof could not be provided then the suspicious event would have to go unresolved.

Today even more so, if anything happens we want to see it again and again, even in slow motion before we can believe it. So reliant we have become on video evidence that circumstantial situations have become almost irrelevant. In recent gaming court cases even video evidence has proved difficult in bringing in successful prosecutions, the more high profile the case then the more hard evidence has to be provided. In recent trials brought against casino fraudsters, video evidence has needed to be backed up by computer graphics providing an insight into how exactly the scam was perpetrated. Once this high tech evidence has been presented then nothing short of this will suffice in future, however this makes sense considering how difficult is has been in the past to explain in court proceedings, that which is second nature to us in the casino world.

On another occasion a few years later, I enquired of the pit boss, “why is that dealer drawing the cards from the shoe on an empty blackjack table” she told me he had been given permission by the Director to practice his punto banco (baccarat) drawing rules. Two days later the same dealer on the same table had set up the blackjack shoe. The dealer had busted out his own hand continually to the tune of an 80,000 dollar loss, the run only being stopped by the change of dealer and the procedure that the next card be burned. The agent was a complete novice and unknown to the casino, the dealer had chosen someone whose share of the take would not be so high, not only did the player not have a decision to make but his control of the black chips was none existent, they were all over the table in heaps and mounds, how he made it to value up his chips and cash out could only have been achieved with the help of the table staff. On this occasion the pit boss’s request to the shift manager that a higher table limit had been asked for, was granted. What allowed the setting up of the shoe to succeed was that only one camera was employed between two blackjack tables and the pit boss neglected to inform surveillance that a shuffle or in this case the lack of a shuffle was taking place. It was also known to the staff involved that surveillance would certainly be watching the adjacent table as there was a game in progress.

The owner of one of the first casinos where I was learning my trade was rumoured to have been discovered years earlier in his dealing days, setting up a Chemin de Fer shoe in the toilets.

The setting up of a shoe in full view of the rest of the gaming floor is not an easy thing to do and therefore normally more than one person has to be involved, without the aid of a pit boss or at least another co-worker to keep watch, success is difficult to guarantee. The complicity of surveillance is also often needed not to mention the time and the ability to memorise the sequence of the cards to be arranged. More usual is the use of a cold deck or decks of cards brought in from the outside, there are many cases of a whole shoe being produced like a rabbit out of a hat from ladies handbags. To prevent this move in some casinos the shoes are chained to the table or at least the shoe will have a special marking underneath. In one other case the casino’s own cards were stolen out of the card store room by security who were solely responsible for their inventory and safe keeping. The cashier who was responsible for issuing the cards at the start of the shift, was part of the chain and she had brought the six decks of cards, which had had specialist art work applied to their pattern, back into the house in her lunch box. The same security guard had checked her entry into the cashier’s desk and the cards were dispatched onto a predetermined blackjack table. The two experts who had marked the cards were first through the door to claim the table solely as theirs, for the duration of the afternoon play. Where they let themselves down and fortunately for the house, was that they left the gaming table during one of the shuffles, in order to pass their takings on to a third associate waiting outside. This allowed the observant dealer more time to study the cards and discover the markings and report it to his supervisor, when the scammers returned to the table, the manager was still checking the cards, seeing this they quickly made their escape.

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