Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Get caught cheating casinos here...get caught casino-cheating there...there IS a difference!

Brad Davis in Istanbul Prison
Remember the Tran Organization which ran that notorious false baccarat scam that rocked the casino world from 2003 until 2007?

I'm sure you do, but you may have forgetten that they cheated some 20 casinos across the US and Canada for up to $30 million, depending on which account was accurate, and, along the way, recruited and corrupted some 30 casino employees, who converted themselves in casino-cheat accomplices, including a mayor of Seattle's son.

The leader of that now infamous Tran Organization casino-cheating ring, Phuong Quoc Truong, who basically damaged as many as three-dozen lives, eventually plea-bargained to a sentence of 6 years and the forfeiture of a pair of houses and a Porsche.

I bet you DON'T remember Steve Roybal.

About the same time the Tran Organization was hopping from casino to casino corrupting dealers and training them to false-shuffle blackjack and baccarat cards, Roybal and his fellow slot-employee co-worker, LynnGallo, were falsifying slot jackpots at their Sandia Casino in New Mexico and writing up the winning tickets, which were exchanged for the cash jackpots at the casino cashier, and pocketing the cash instead of giving it to the bogus winners.

The pair did this an incredible 699 times!

I guess 700 was their unlucky number, but over the course of 15 months they pocketed $1.2 million in a small New Mexican tribal casino.

They were eventually caught when a suspicious employee alerted their sleepy security staff, who alerted their sleepy surveillance staff, who alerted their completely dead compliance department.

Lynn Gallo may have been the lucky one when she died before she could be charged. But Mr. Roybal got sentenced to--now get this!--54 years in state prison!

54 years!,

And all he did was rip off a casino for a million bucks. He didn't hurt anyone, corrupt anyone, put anyone in grave danger. He only took a little cash from a casino that had such poor internal controls you might think it deserved it.

So, yes, there are huge differences in how each casino jurisdiction deals with cheats.

For example, Las Vegas is generally harsh while Europe is generally lenient. Asia can be a real problem for casino and poker cheats while the Caribbean casinos generally chill out.

As for me back in the day--I fortunately knew that what could be a little slap in the hand in one place could be that same hand chopped off in another.

In fact, back in 1979, I was lying on a European beach with my partner in casino crime, Joe Classon, who was reading a newspaper article about a brand new Hilton casino about to open up in Istanbul, Turkey.

He said to me, "Hey Rich, let's fly over to Istanbul and check out the new Hilton! It should be a thrill!"

Well, what Joe didn't realize is the night before--and I mean THE night before--I saw the movie Midnight Express!

So I said, "Joe, that's one thrill I can live without right now!"