Saturday, August 02, 2008
Paul Leggett, Chief Operating Officer of Tokwiro, the parent company of Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, has spoken in detail about the scandal that has enveloped one of his online poker rooms. Tokwiro just released its findings to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which is the primary regulating body for Ultimate Bet. Leggett commented to the public, "There has never been any cover up in our investigation. We've made two statements listing the accounts that were involved and we made another statement last week regarding the completion of our investigation."
A bevy of names have been associated as being behind the scandal, but Leggett said he is unable to point fingers currently: "I get asked all the time why we can't name who cheated. There's nothing I would like better than to name the perpetrator's name, but our situation isn't that simple." Tokwiro is considering pursuing legal action as well and naming names now is against the advice of Leggett's counsel.
My question is: Is this an appeasing way to hide a coverup? And, legal action??? Is he kidding us??
Mohegan Sun's Take At The Tables A Bust
Mohegan Sun got beat up this quarter — not only with an expected fall in overall profits but at the blackjack tables as well.
The cards fell poorly for the Uncasville casino: Its table games hold percentage — the portion of gamblers' money the casino rakes in — fell to an all-time low of 11.6 percent in three months ending June 30, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported Thursday.
With hundreds of thousands of gamblers betting hundreds of millions of dollars at the tables, the hold percentage has almost always hovered around 16 percent. Games like blackjack and craps produce a steady number of winners and losers over the long run, making this spring's dip all the more strange, when it comes to the odds.
"It really is just a string of extreme bad luck that we had at the table games," explained Mitchell Etess, Mohegan's president and CEO. "We have a lot of higher-level players, and we had some of them that were very lucky."
Bad Luck For The House Graphic Table games revenue dipped by 25 percent, from $101 million to $75 million, even though the amount of money in play on Mohegan tables rose 6.4 percent, to $650 million.
That fall, combined with slower slot machine betting because of the economic downturn, led to an 11 percent overall drop in gambling income, from $371 million to $330 million.
It's possible, but unlikely, that a single high-rolling gambler had a string of luck that caused the dip.
"It could happen for a couple of reasons," said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "People could just get lucky or there could be some kind of cheating going on."
Etess rejected the possibility of cheating. Mohegan closely monitors each table and watches trends across all games to determine whether players or employees are cheating the casino, he said.
"We are always concerned about that type of thing, but we don't believe that that's the problem in this quarter," he said.
And it's unlikely players are simply getting better at playing the games, Schwartz said, because if they knew the real probabilities of winning they probably wouldn't be playing.
A spokeswoman for Foxwoods, which does not report table game results, declined to say whether the casino has seen similar fluctuations in its hold percentages.
Ironically, one of Mohegan's own development strategies may be responsible for the dip. Over the last few years, the casino has aggressively courted high-rollers, players with the cash to bet thousands on a single hand.
That strategy backfires when players laying huge bets beat the house repeatedly. But Etess said Mohegan will continue to market itself to such players, citing their business as a major driver in upticks in the casino's reported "drop" — the amount of money gamblers put on the table.
Declines in disposable income and rising gas prices also worked against Mohegan last quarter. Revenues from slot machines fell 5.2 percent to $254 million as fewer players made the drive from Boston or New York to play the machines, the casino's report said.
All told, the casino's net income fell nearly 90 percent to $5 million, down from $45.7 million a year ago.
Friday, August 01, 2008
This month´s scam is Blackjack Hole-Carding. Professional Hole Carding teams earn more money than professional card counting teams. To read about Blackjack Hole-Carding click here.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
MACAU IPO Adds Fuel TO Atlantic City Casino Cheating Probe
Macau's oldest gambling company acknowledges its policies to prevent money laundering may not be working. It admits the possibility its patrons, in collusion with employees, may be cheating or committing fraud. And it says if it fails to establish effective internal controls, it may not be able to accurately report its financial results.
These are not your typical corporate disclosures. Then again, SJM Holdings isn't your typical casino company. It's controlled by Stanley Ho, a colorful and controversial Asian gambling magnate who for years has fought allegations he has ties to the Chinese mob.
Earlier this month, SJM, which is based in the Chinese enclave of Macau, started trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and its 350-page initial public offering lays out, for the first time, a casino operation that for years remained in the shadows.
Now, the filing has become the latest in a long list of items New Jersey investigators are scrutinizing as they determine whether to sign off on MGM Mirage's partnership with Ho's daughter, Pansy, for a $1.25 billion Macau casino. MGM is licensed by New Jersey regulators because it co-owns the Borgata casino in Atlantic City and has plans for another casino in A.C.
Although Stanley Ho is not the focus of the New Jersey probe, he looms large as investigators examine his relationship with his eldest daughter and the heir apparent to his empire. Pansy Ho is a director of her father's main corporation, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, or STDM, which owns a controlling interest in his gambling company. And she is a top executive in another business in his expansive holdings.
The question before regulators: Is Pansy Ho truly independent from her father?
MGM says she is. But New Jersey investigators have spent three years trying to answer that question in what is shaping up to be one of the longest casino probes in state history. Meanwhile, Mississippi and Nevada regulators have cleared the partnership, the MGM Grand Macau has opened and MGM has announced plans for both a Macau expansion and a $5 billion resort in Atlantic City.
MGM spokesman Alan Feldman said the company and Pansy Ho continue to cooperate with New Jersey investigators.
"Pansy's track record as an independent businesswoman is impeccable and impressive," he said. "We expect a positive outcome whenever the (division) is ready to give it."
Josh Lichtblau, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, declined comment through Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, which oversees the division.
MUCH AT STAKE
New Jersey regulators have a mandate to ensure companies and executives doing business in A.C. are free from "inimical associations." As with any sensitive investigation, the state attorney general's office is expected to sign off on the division's probe before it decides whether to ask for a hearing before the Casino Control Commission, which acts as a judge in licensing cases.
The commission could approve the partnership, impose penalties or restrictions, or force MGM to choose between Macau and A.C., where it co-owns the Borgata with Boyd Gaming.
A heck of a lot is at stake. Macau has quickly surpassed Las Vegas in revenue, raking in $10 billion last year, and is on track to hit $15 billion in 2008 -- more than Las Vegas and A.C. combined.
MGM, one of the world's largest gambling companies, owns 11 Las Vegas casinos and is nearing completion of the $8 billion CityCenter resort there. In Atlantic City, it has plans for what would be one of the country's most expensive casino projects.
Some critics have questioned whether MGM announced its A.C. casino plans last fall to put pressure on regulators at a time when the city has struggled. Casino revenue fell 5.7 percent in 2007; it's down 6 percent so far this year.
"Is this being dangled as a means of getting regulators not to do their job completely?" asked state Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Morris), a former deputy attorney general for the gaming division.
"It raises questions as to whether it's appropriate to be talking about those kinds of numbers, and whether it's an attempt to improperly influence a regulatory decision," Merkt said.
MGM officials bristle at the charge, and have been quick to point out they have paid half of the $1.7 billion it took to build Borgata and expand it.
Stanley Ho is Macau's wealthiest businessman. His empire includes hotels, real estate, a ferry route and an airline, although since his 40-year gambling monopoly in Macau was broken six years ago, his casino market share has plunged to 40 percent.
He has been courted by American politicians, and yet for years he has been suspected of having mob ties. In 1988, the U.S. Justice Department listed him as an associate of an unknown Chinese mob, or triad, that operated in Macau's casino VIP rooms. More recently, the U.S. State Department's 2007 narcotics control report said the triads continue to control the VIP rooms of Macau's casinos through activities like racketeering, loan sharking and prostitution.
Ho repeatedly has denied having anything to do with triads.
VIP rooms represent a majority of Macau's casino business. And for years, the Macau casinos have hired outside promoters to bring wealthy patrons to gamble in the rooms. SJM, in its initial public offering, said it could not provide assurance the activities of the promoters or their patrons comply with "applicable laws and regulations, such as usury or anti-money laundering laws or regulations."
The filing also acknowledged Macau's casino industry is "prone to potential money laundering and other illegal activities." SJM said while it has an anti-money laundering system in place, and it hired Deloitte & Touche to review its procedures, they may not be enough to prevent all money-laundering activities.
Merkt, the state assemblyman, said what he found most troubling was Ho's ties to North Korea. STDM, Ho's main company, owns a stake in a North Korean casino, according to the SJM public offering document. The son of the country's dictator, Kim Jong Il, has been known to take residence at a hotel partially owned by a company Pansy Ho oversees, according to the South China Morning Post. And a bank Stanley Ho controls was reported to be under investigation by U.S. agencies for possible connections to an illegal fundraising network believed to be financing North Korea's nuclear program.
In addition, Stanley Ho's name has been attached to violent incidents. In 1987, his chief assistant was hacked to death by a professional killer in what police said was payback from an Asian gambling syndicate. In addition, two lawyers for Ho's estranged sister, Winnie, have been brutally attacked.
But no allegation has ever been proven, and Stanley Ho has never been charged with a crime.
In 2002, Macau, a former Portuguese colony, decided it was time to break Stanley Ho's monopoly over Macau's casinos and open the market to outside competition.
Initially, MGM lost out to other operators in its bid for a Macau casino. But it found a way in by partnering with Pansy Ho, who agreed to compete against her father's gambling business.
Now, Pansy Ho's dealings with her father are the focus of the New Jersey probe.
"It's a case of, are the sins of the father automatically passed on to the children?" said Bill Eadington, the director for the Institute and Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming.
Pansy Ho and MGM paid Stanley Ho $200 million to get in on Macau. And Pansy Ho and her sister, Daisy, who also is involved, told Nevada regulators a major portion of their $80 million investment in the deal came from their father through a trust fund.
Pansy and Daisy Ho work for their father as executives of Shun Tak Holdings, which owns a shipping business and hotels, among other things.
In addition, Pansy Ho is a director in STDM, which along with Stanley Ho has the ability to exercise "substantial influence or control" over her father's gambling company "in ways that may not be in the interests of (SJM's) other shareholders," according to SJM's public offering.
Despite the business dealings, regulators in Nevada, where MGM has a huge presence, cleared the partnership last year.
Eadington said Nevada regulators "were willing to take Pansy's word she had adequate independence financially and in terms of decision-making."
"Obviously, there weren't any smoking guns," he said. "But I think it still is eyebrow-raising, and the fact that New Jersey has been so slow is perhaps a reinforcement of that."
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Well, I think the same thing is happening in the US with the FBI, which now has a special unit specializing in interstate AND international casino cheating operations, which, if you don´t know, fall under the RICO statutes that define racketeering activities within American borders--and guarantees prison terms for those convicted of crimes falling under its statutes. The FBI has been investigating organized slot machine cheating teams, and recently the major American/Canadian dealer/player baccarat scam that victimized more than 30 casinos, reaped more than $20 million in illicit profits and sent a parade of dealers, pit bosses and player/agents to prisons in both the US and Canada (the parade is still continuing as more people charged in the huge scam have copped pleas and are awaiting sentencing.
Almost simultaneously, government officials in both Canada and the UK have pledged financial support to police organizations and gaming commissions investigating casino cheating (I am speaking of real brick and mortar casino cheating, not online cheating). The UK has been home to several major live casino scams over the past five years, including the infamous Ritz Roulette Scam, where a trio of Eastern Europeans victimized London casino roulette wheels with laser scanners and cell phones to the "dial tone" of $3 million dollars, and a three-card poker scam using microcameras hidden in sleeves to film the faces of cards as they were dealt to the players.
However, the law is still murky in the UK as to what constitutes actual casino cheating. I am still not 100% sure if using equipment to predict the outcome of roulette spins is legal, but I think it is. But filming cards with hidden cameras is now clearly illegal in the UK, demonstrated by the convictions of the Chinese crew that pulled of London`s three-card poker scam.
When I was the world`s number one casino cheater, I didn´t have to worry too much about the FBI and international police agencies like Interpol--but times are changing!
Online Poker Cheating Scandal Echoes!
Cheating at online poker may seem surprising, but it's not impossible. NO KIDDING!
Poker, Fraud, UltimateBet, Absolute Poker, Poker Players Alliance have all been contributing to the Online Poker Cheating Pot in various ways, and one former US senator has been very outspoken in his determination to get online poker in the US legalized and regulated, in a grand effort to stop the cheating and scandals revolving around online poker.
The following account has been published by Nigel K at CasinoReports:
Senator Concerned Over Online Poker Cheat Scandals!
The uncovering of two online cheating scandals at Absolute Poker and UltimateBet has not gone unnoticed by former US Senator Alphonse D'Amato. The New York politician who is the current chairman of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has brought the incidents to the attention of the US Senate in an effort to legislate against this new breed of Internet crime. Both poker sites resided in the jurisdiction of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission which initially did not permit inspection of these sites in order to present a clean bill of health.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) grants gaming licenses to a range of online poker, casino, and sports book websites. A number of these websites are managed and hosted by Mohawk Internet Technologies (MIT), an Internet hosting company located on Kahnawake territory near Quebec. MIT has created a name for itself in the North American casino game hosting market and is currently the most convenient source of online gambling sites for the majority of US citizens.
Poker Players Alliance
Senator D'Amato is particularly sensitive to issues such as cheating of any kind. The fact that the recent scandals occurred on online websites suggests that regulation is required of the Internet media that enables such events to take place. D'Amato's concern is reflected by the fact that while the incidents took place outside US jurisdiction, many US citizens have been affected.
The websites that enabled the cheating to occur had allegedly allowed some of the online poker players to see the cards of other players in the game. The KGC declared their innocence and announced that any players who lost money would be refunded. Additionally, they announced that those employees involved with the scandal had been dismissed. The KGC also stated that the software had been corrected, although the whole incident has left a bitter taste in the mouths of all concerned.
Senator D'Amato expressed concern that no members of the KGC or of the websites in question were charged with criminal action. D'amato released a statement that condemned the online poker cheating scandal and further blamed the KGC for not taking legal action against those concerned.
Regulation, Not Banning
Most significantly, Senator D'Amato used the incident to push for federal regulation of the Internet gambling industry. Falling clearly in line with those calling for regulation, D'Amato is convinced that a ban on online gambling would be counterproductive and unworkable.