Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ex-Riviera Security Boss Accuses the Las Vegas Casino of Cheating its Customers!

It`s rare when a casino employee at the top level blows the whistle on his casino, but that`s what happened at the Riviera Casino in Las Vegas.

 I know the Riviera quite well. It used to be one of the top and glamorous casinos on the Vegas Strip. When I first arrived in Vegas in 1976 as a nineteen year-old, I legitimately beat its baccarat pit for a hundred grand--before giving it all back and then some in a single day. You might say that my Riviera experience directly led to my career as a professional casino cheat.

 According to the Huffington Post, the former security director of the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas says he was fired for reporting that the casino rigged one of its slot machines. Douglas A. Poppa is suing the Riviera for wrongful termination and whistleblower retaliation, Courthouse News reported Tuesday. Poppa's lawyer, Sharon L. Nelson, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that the case "falls squarely" under Nevada's whistleblowing protections. "Mr. Poppa did the right thing and attempted to correct a wrong perpetrated by the Riviera against the public and its customers," Nelson wrote in an email. "In objecting to what was clearly illegal conduct, Mr. Poppa complained to the proper authorities and for that his career was abruptly and unlawfully ended."

 The Riviera noted it had yet to be served with the papers, but a representative for the hotel-casino said Poppa's claims were not true. "While we do not normally comment on active litigation, the claims included in Mr. Poppa’s complaint are false and totally without merit and we intend to vigorously defend against them," the representative told HuffPost in an email. "We look forward to the actual truth coming out during the course of the legal process."

 In October 2011, Poppa claimed in court papers, he learned that the hotel had manipulated the payout of the "Money Blast" slot machine so customers couldn't win the jackpot, Courthouse News wrote. He reported the alleged cheating to the Gaming Control Board in November 2011 and was suspended by the hotel-casino in December. After receiving a warning by the Riviera to cease communication with the gaming board, he was fired in January 2012, the report notes.

 Global Gaming Business Magazine described Money Blast as a "high-volatility slot" with a dynamite-mining theme. The Riviera, built in 1955, is attempting a renaissance under CEO Andy Choy, who took over in 2010 after the property emerged from bankruptcy, the Las Vegas Sun previously reported.

 My take: Hard to believe that the Riviera engaged in slot-machine fixing, but I certainly believe it!