|Macau Cheats With Their Equipment|
Macau police have smashed a mainland syndicate that allegedly swindled casinos out of more than HK$24 million using camera-embedded card shuffling machines, arresting seven men. Detectives are also investigating whether dealers may be involved, but would not reveal the names of the casinos.
The modified card machines were first discovered in January but it was not until March 28 that the alleged culprits were identified.
The seven, including two alleged masterminds, were nabbed at hotels or at the border crossing when they attempted to return to Macau this month.
Aged between 37 and 46, they are mostly from Yunnan, and one hails from Jilin. They are believed to have placed their modified machines in casinos and analyzed the filmed card shuffling sequence before laying down bets on baccarat tables.
The modified devices appear to be the same as the ones used in casinos, but each was fitted with a micro video camera and infrared transmitter. Mirrors were also installed to reflect images of cards to a video camera.
Police allege the footage was transmitted to a center outside the casino where the ring took one to two hours to compute the maximum possible probability of winning at baccarat.
The gamblers then reserved VIP rooms and placed bets according to the analyzed results.
Suen Kam-fai of the Macau Judiciary Police said syndicate members relied on distractions during the machine switches. The alleged masterminds are named Liu and Yang. Two others are said to have criminal records for cheating at card games in casinos in 2005.
The scam came to light in January when technicians carried out regular maintenance of shuffling machines at a casino. Officers with the gaming-related and economic crimes investigation department later launched an investigation and found other machines in Macau casinos. Police seized HK$1 million from the seven and are still calculating the total amount involved in the swindle.