Tuesday, March 05, 2019

More Bad Publicity for MGM National Harbor concerning Casino Cheating

More anti-cheating legislation problems in Maryland 
I recently blogged about an article on Maryland state legislators trying to get laws into the book that make cheating casino table games a crime. I, like many other people in all facets of the casino business--including active casino cheats--was quite surprised to learn that casino cheating on table games has no current place in Maryland's criminal statutes, which means that anyone caught cheating a table game in any Maryland casino has nothing more to worry about than simply being thrown out and barred from the casino.

My blog brought to light the obvious threat to Maryland's casinos brought on by making public knowledge of Maryland's vulnerability to casino cheats. Surely, many cheats of all levels and abilities would take advantage of "riskless shots" against the state's casinos. This means that some serious casino-cheating felonies on Las Vegas gaming tables that would bring certain prison time to offenders currently goes unpunished by the law in Maryland.

Now more facts, damaging ones, are coming out of MGM's National Harbor casino. First off, an MGM representative has told state legislators that more than 60% of all cheating incidents recorded at all the MGM properties worldwide happens at the company's Maryland property.

That is an astounding number!

And no doubt the reason behind it is that casino cheats have been launching an assault against Maryland's casinos. They are coming in droves and taking their shots with nothing more to lose than being tossed out.

MGM National Harbor's surveillance director, Michael Ruggiano, told the House Ways and Means Committe that the Bellagio and Aria casinos in Las Vegas caught a combined total of six casino cheats in 2018 while the MGM National Harbor had some 153 incidents during the same year.

That is another staggering fact!

According to National Harbor's vice president of government affairs, Kerry Watson, there are blogs online that identify Maryland's casinos as a place where cheats can have their "free shots" cheating table games. This, in my mind, is tantamount to encouraging casino cheating in the state's casinos.

What makes all this even more confusing is that the Committee wants more information from the MGM concerning the actual financial losses suffered by the property due to cheating and the MGM seems unwilling to supply that information. The MGM has been pushing the new criminalizing-cheating bills as a way for the state not to lose tax revenues, and the Committee seems to agree, but the fact that the MGM does not want to quantify the amount lost to casino cheats, and the Committee is bewildered by this as it knows that the MGM has all the cheating incidents recorded on video yet cannot or will not provide the figure of the total loss is confusing.

However, Kerry Watson did admit that the reason for the MGM's reluctance is simply that it doesn't want to publicize the figure for fear that doing so would provoke more casino cheats to come to what would be further perceived as a "cheating destination."

Maryland delegate Eric Ebersole said to Watson, “You have the evidence here, you can see these people cheating, so you know how much they won. You’ve cited 153 cases. In those 153 cases, before you ask these people to leave, how much did they take from you in total for the year?"

“The dollar amount is what we’re really interested in here,” Ebersole added, “because one of the problems is that we’re losing money earmarked for education."

That's when Watson told Ebersole that MGM doesn’t want to publicize a dollar figure because it could draw even more attention to MGM National Harbor and the state as a cheating destination. Ebersole replied, “It would help us, though, if we had an idea on the magnitude of this problem. It would help us decide if this is serious enough to give people criminal records, misdemeanors, and felonies for the crimes they are committing.”

By not providing the figures that Ebersole wants, the MGM did not help its cause last Friday. The legislation pertains to crimes that increase in severity based on specific dollar amounts.

Finally, the casino admitted it wasn’t as well prepared when pushing the measure last year.

My take: Hopefully the proposed bill will advance soon, before the ongoing legislative session ends in April. If it doesn't, the MGM National Harbor and the rest of Maryland's casinos are in for another long casino-cheating year.