Friday, February 19, 2010

DNA Casino Game Protection...Fact or Fiction? Will DNA Be Used as Evidence Against Poker, Casino and Slot Cheats?

You probably know that casinos began their high-tech war on poker and casino cheats by using biometric facial-recognition technology about five years ago, as well as RFID technology in the chips. But what about DNA? Can it somehow be used to thwart and arrest these poker and casino cheats? Let's look at some possibilities.

Scenario 1:

Back in 1996 at the Horseshoe casino in Tunica, Mississippi, I pastposted a $100 chip straight-up on number 32 after the roulette ball fell into the inner pocket for that number. As always, I immediately left the table as the claimer (person who claims the pastposted bet) moved into positon to begin his claim to get paid the $3,500 for the fraudulent bet. But that fateful day, my claimer, Lou Alaimo, who didn't last long on my cheat team, froze up and never opened his mouth. Then he shit in his pants and left the casino in a hurry, leaving the pastposted $100 chip lying there on number 32. My old teammate, the legendary Pat Mallory, was not involved in the laying or claiming of the move, so he was able to stay behind to gage the casino's reaction, which would have been fairly easy to predict after the dealer asked everyone at the table "whose winning bet is this on number 32?" The dealer was not the least bit spooked and only wanted to pay the right person the $3,500. But when no one responded, naturally things in that Horseshoe roulette pit began heating up fast!

When the dealer told his floor supervisor that no one at the table claimed the $3,500 payoff, he immediately got suspicious and called casino surveillance. It just so happened that the overhead camera had filmed me putting in the move. They also had some videotape of my face underneath the baseball cap I had been wearing.

The Horseshoe tried to mobilize as quick as they could to grab me up, but naturally I was long gone, at the casino bar in the nearby Sheraton casino. When Pat arrived to tell me what had happened, we immediately picked up the lame claimer Lou and got out of Dodge! I later learned that I was ID'd by Griffin Investigations and Mississippi Gaming as having been the "mechanic" on that aborted roulette move.

However, they only had overhead video shots, not enough to positively ID me in court.

But what if they had immediately closed down that roulette table without touching anything and called the local CSI (or the closest thing to it at the time), and a team of CSIs arrived at the casino to investigate the "crime scene"? They surely could have taken fingerprints off that pastposted $100 chip. That alone with the videotape would have nailed me, right?

What about DNA? I had been sitting at the bottom of that roulette table for half an hour before I put the move in. In spite of the ballcap, a hair or two or three had to fall from my head onto the layout, my chair or the floor, right? I know there could have been hundreds of human hairs in the vicinity, but they could have scooped them if they'd wanted. Then after gathering hairs, they could have taken the videotape evidence to a judge and probably gotten an order to get a DNA sample from me to compare with the hairs.

I would have been dead to rights again, right?

Back then DNA was already in use, as we all know from the O.J. murder trial a year and half before that. I always wondered why casinos still have not used DNA in poker, slot and casino cheat investigations. Will it happen soon? I would think so, especially if we see the likes of another giant slot machine scam where members of the cheat team leave DNA evidence on or near the victimized slot machines.

Scenario 2:

A juicy high-stakes poker game is going on at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. During the game someone notices what he thinks is a high-tech card marking on one of the aces. The highly skilled card marker gets wind of this and quickly gets up and leaves the table and the casino. Later, infrared surveillance technology confirms that a high-tech card marking operation had been taking place. The suspected card marker is picked up on video but he is not recognized by investigators and not in any of the facial recognition data bases. Fingerprints are taken off the particular marked ace and other cards, but they don't match any prints in the state or federal systems. Hairs are collected from the table, chair and floor where the card marker had been playing. They are put into evidence storage with the marked cards.

All this sounds like the guy would be cooked if he ever came back into the Bellagio and got apprehended, right? Or for that matter, if he ever got caught marking cards anywhere in the world.

So, did this scenario really happen at the Bellagio?

No...but when it does we will surely get a gander at it on a future episode of CSI...with the poker card-marking cheat opening his mouth and Marg Helgenberger sticking in the Q-tip.