Friday, November 16, 2018

Another Connecticut Casino Insider Scam nets Cheating Dealer Probation

Mohegan Sun...More insider cheating
The player/agent, who had previously worked at the same casino for nearly two decades, got a year in prison.

It all happened on the blackjack tables at the Mohegan Sun casino, and like nearly always, it was a rinky-dink scam where the dealer, fifty-five-year-old Roy Mariano, simply overpaid the player, Marlene Rivera, many times when she won her hand. According to accounts I have read on this, there was nothing more than that going on. And their total take was nearly $80,000!

Imagine that...a simple overpay-scam taking down eighty grand! I don't know how long they were running it, nor do I know why the casino's surveillance department didn't catch it quickly, assuming that it went on for awhile. I mean, they had to be doing this for at least heavy green and black-chip action to get that kind of money out off  the tables.

It is just truly amazing all the insider scams that have happened at the two major Connecticut casinos over the years, the other of course being Foxwoods. I am not going to blame table-games staffs, nor am I going to blame surveillance departments. I guess the reason for this must be related to the simple fact that these two casinos are huge in size and congruent high-action, and cheating from the inside for several hundred dollars or a few thousand per night just stays under the radar.

Perhaps more details about this scam will emerge. If they do I will keep you posted.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Willy Allison has recently published his list of speakers/presenters for the 2019 World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas. Despite my animosity toward Willy and other people closely associated with him and the WGPC, I will do the best I can to give an unbiased opinion of the 2019 WGPC lineup. Doing this is a rather difficult chore as I don't want to give Willy any free publicity but at the same time I do not want to discourage people from coming to his conference.

So, that said, let's get started.

WILLY ALLISON: Sorry, I cannot be unbiased here, so I must let this one go.

ANTHONY CLARK: I met Anthony in 2017 when I trained his surveillance department at the Soaring Eagle casino in Michigan. I found him to be bright, knowledgeable and personable, and most important, eager and willing to learn. I am sure he will be an interesting presenter and do a fine job. RELEVANT

DARRIN HOKE: I briefly met Darrin a few times over the years at the WGPC, which I keynoted in 2007, and at the G2E in Las Vegas. He is clearly well-rounded in all aspects of surveillance and game protection and has lots of knowledge to impart. RELEVANT

BILL ZENDER: When it comes to the numbers of table games, casino promotions, etc., Bill is your guy. I do not, however, consider him to be an expert in casino-cheating. RELEVANT

SAL PIACENTE: Sal does the work, that's for sure, and keeps up with all the current scams. However, he has made some comments that lead me to believe his innate casino-cheating knowledge is not as strong. He sent me an email a few years back calling my notorious Savannah roulette-cheating move "a rinky-dink pinch move." Others in the business, including past speakers at the WGPC, have called it the best cheating move ever. Lots of people believe that Sal is an ex-casino cheat. That is not true. Sal has never cheated in a legal gaming establishment. He told me so himself. I am not praising or berating that fact. RELEVANT

JOHN UNDERWOOD: I trained John's staff at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa last July. John and his staff were very attentive, and he and his more experienced people had very significant knowledge on game protection, including that for roulette with roulette balls and craps with dice, which is just a few months old in Oklahoma. John has a youthful spirit and great attitude and will be a big plus at the WGPC. RELEVANT

GEORGE JOSEPH: If you want dinosaur game protection, George is your guy. RELEVANT

TONY STONE: I never met Tony, but we did have a series of extremely long and somewhat argumentative emails about my articles condemning Willy Allison. Although Tony's opinion sided with Willy more than me, our conversations went way beyond that dispute. While writing back and forth about several game protection topics, I found Tony to be one of the most knowledgeable people in the field. I am sure you will find his presentation current and interesting. RELEVANT

JOE NAVARRO: Although I respect Joe's knowledge and credentials, I feel they are more suited to terrorism than they are to game protection. I severely criticized the WGPC for its focus last year on the Las Vegas Massacre, and I will never be sold on body language analysis being integral to casino game protection unless it has to do with cheat-team communication, nor do I think the threat of terrorism inside casinos is as great as the WGPC makes it out to be. IRRELEVANT

DREW PORTER: Specializing in "Full-spectrum zero knowledge"...The key word here is "zero" and that's about the extent of the relevance this stuff has to game protection. IRRELEVANT

KERRY BUBOLZ: The Golden Knights are a great story and inspirational after the Las Vegas Massacre, but of course this has nothing to do with game protection. IRRELEVANT

EDWARD PRIMEAU: The science and technology of audio and video forensics can indeed be important to casino investigations encompassing several crimes, including cheating at the tables. RELEVANT

MICHAEL PRIMEAU: Like father like son. RELEVANT

JOSH DAVID: I would bet a million dollars to win a dollar that I could walk into any crowded casino in the world on a Saturday night without a disguise and be recognized by exactly zero super-recognizers. All this facial recognition stuff is great in close quarters and one-by-one or small-group entry but not when you have throngs of people entering casinos with their heads tilted in various positions. IRRELEVANT

MICHAEL ROZIN: Willy Allison tweeted his support for software that could predict which angry losers at the gaming tables might go back to their rooms, get their AR-15s, and come back into the casino blasting away. That was rubbish and so is any more talk of predicting who will turn into casino mass-murderers based on their casino play and actions, Mr. Rozin notwithstanding. RIDICULOUS

JIM DOWLING: Money laundering is certainly important to casinos and being able to detect it can lead to putting some serious criminals out of business and into jail. If solid casino cage policies are instituted and employees trained in this, even professional casino-cheat teams can be thwarted. When I train casinos, I show how strict anti-money-laundering procedures in place at casinos can be a major factor in catching the best professional casino cheats. RELEVANT

MIKE WAITE: Obviously a well-rounded surveillance professional with lots of experience. His presentation will be useful. Teamwork in catching casino cheats is essential. RELEVANT

ROBERT KRAUS: Robert is no doubt extremely qualified in his field, and by reading up on him I have found his contributions to the protection of gaming facilities exemplary. However, I think his expertise is much more relevant to the outside protection of casinos, not to the table games and slot machines inside. IRRELEVANT

BRIAN LOPEZ: As previously mentioned, anything concerning money laundering in casinos is relevant. What I didn't mention above is that drug gangs have been laundering money in casinos for years, especially in Las Vegas. RELEVANT

MARVIN SZUKALOWSKI: Nothing can be more important than surveillance's role in the future of game protection. But what is missing at the WGPC (nothing to do with Marvin) is the importance of table games departments' role in the future of game protection. I constantly stress at all my training sessions that the two departments MUST work better together and as an efficient team in order to have any chance of stopping high-level cheats.

Okay, there you have it!

I must admit that this year's WGPC is much more relevant to casino game protection than last year's, where Bill Zender was called a "hybrid" game protection specialist, whatever the hell that means, and the term "critical non-verbal vigilance" and other tongue twisters were used to describe irrelevant presenters.

Hey, guess what?

Maybe Willy Allison is listening to me...a little!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Game Protection Dinosaur

The Boxman...A lost breed
No, I am not talking about George Joseph (excuse the joke but he does refer to himself as a game protection dinosaur), but rather about a game protection dinosaur that George Joseph indeed knows very well.

Yes, I am talking about Las Vegas craps boxmen, who have more or less been gone for a decade now. Of course 10-years-gone doesn't yet qualify them as extinct, but in Vegas lore that is indeed becoming the case.

There has been a long debate in the casino industry about whether the demise of Las Vegas boxmen is a positive or negative for casinos' bottom line. The argument pits game protection people against casino finance executives and accountants, or should I say bean counters?

The game protection people of course argue that cutting out the  boxmen hurts that very protection of games and makes craps more vulnerable to cheating scams, both from the outside and those from the inside that involve dishonest craps crews who take advantage of boxmen's perpetual absence.

The finance executives and accountants say that the 3-man craps crew of two dealers and a stickman can adequately observe and protect craps tables just as well as they did in the era of boxmen. Therefore, boxmen were expendable and cutting their salaries more than made up for losses to cheats taking advantage of one less set of eyes watching the craps games, albeit an extremely important set of eyes.

Okay, which side do I take? I bet you can guess.

True, the reduction of salaries is certainly black and white and does reduce payroll.

But on the other side, the game protection side, things are not quite as clear. From a cheating point of view, I, for one, can attest to the huge increase in vulnerability to cheating that craps games have without the boxmen sitting on duty. The first casino area I ever noticed not sitting boxmen was Reno and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. And I first saw the boxmenless tables there in the early 1980s.

And boy did our cheat teams make Reno and Lake Tahoe pay! We bombarded all the casinos in those two Nevada gambling-hot-spots with purple check pastposts, sometimes for as much as $5,000 per move, pastposting both the pass line and the odds simultaneously. We didn't even need a distraction because there was no one there to be distracted. The stickman was always busied following the dice and placing the prop bets and the two base dealers, normally refusing to hawk the opposite end of the table (which is proper adherence to game protection), could never see the cheat moves going down there.

It was as easy taking those speckled purple checks off the craps tables as it is taking red and white candy canes from a baby, thus my point on cheating boxmenless craps from the outside.

So what about craps-cheating the same tables from the inside, by wise and dishonest craps crews who appreciate the existence of boxmen--or should I say non-existence of boxmen?

Need I remind you all of the infamous Bellagio Casino hopper scam that took place between 2012 and 2014, just a little while after boxmen began disappearing from Vegas craps tables? For those of you unfamiliar with a craps hopping scam, it is basically nothing more than players calling out verbal bets (hopping bets) before or as they are putting their checks on the table. The craps crew is then supposed to place the chips on the called-out number as soon as possible, before the dice are rolled.

Well, in the case of the Bellagio scam, the dishonest craps crew of three, a stickman and two dealers, simply placed the hopping chips on the number that was rolled, not the number that was called out or hoppped. This ridiculous amateurish scam went on in the Bellagio, a major Las Vegas Strip casino, for more than a year to the tune of $1.5 million without anyone not involved in it noticing.

Not even surveillance had a clue!

So who finally noticed it? I'm told it was another dealer not involved who wanted to be just that...involved. He supposedly approached the crooked threesome and demanded to be cut in on the scam, and those three cheating dealers were obviously as rudimentary as their scam was--they refused--and kept on cheating with the knowledge that another dealer who wanted in and was denied was on to everything!

So no surprise that the jilted dealer dropped the dime on the three dealer-cheats who eventually were all convicted of felonies and sent to state prison.

I firmly believe that had boxmen been present at the Bellagio during that time, the scam would never have come off, or at least it would have been much less costly if it did come off and a boxman was in on it. That because the crew would have had less opportunities to cheat in light of the fact they had to occupy all four crew positions around the craps table.

And what about the sliding-dice scams, today's modern craps table scourge? Sliding dice were mainly the responsibility of boxmen who more than not never let the dice out of their sight. So without them there, skilled dice-sliding teams who are capable of simulating a legitimate tumble with an illegitimate spin can easier get off their sliding scams.

And there's still another negative element the casinos' financial guys never take into account when arguing to get rid of boxmen...mistakes.

Mistakes! Dealers at craps make them more than dealers on the other table games. No doubt. Why? Because craps is by far the most complicated game to deal, so even craps dealers with tons of experience make errors on the payoffs.

And who do you think is there--or was there--to spot the errors and inform the dealers so they could be corrected?

You're right!...the boxmen.

But you know what? There's one element about the boxmen's disappearance that for me has even more significance than the game protection loss. That is simply the loss of ambience. For me, Las Vegas boxmen were a symbol of the action throughout the whole casino, the entire town. Perhaps as well a symbol of the showy machismo that Las Vegas craps games brought to the otherwise dry desert. Just the image of boxmen settling disputes, calming irate gamblers down, smiling at the attractive women, or the fancy way they rotated a die in their hands before examining it after it flew off the table, making sure it was the same die that had flown off the table and not a loaded one that may have been switched into the game by a cheat. The whole process of an experienced boxman examining a die was nothing short of a Las Vegas ritual. And I miss that.

So now that we are getting more and more into the boxmenless craps era in Las Vegas, you know how I feel about it.

How 'bout you? Do you side with the game protection guys or with the bean counters?

And one final thought: Just think that casinos in Las Vegas used to sit two boxmen, one for each side of the table, on jammed-up high action games!

What does that tell you about boxmen's true importance to game protection?