Non-regular opportunities in casino business, more commonly known as ‘Scams’, but which can also include ‘Heists’ and ‘Fraud’ are always good news ‘copy’, though Gaming Operators and Casinos are never happy to have to talk about them. There’s something happening all the time in most casinos, and not from where the punters first look either.
Well back by popular demand, here’s ‘Part Two’, where I finally get down the Heists and the Frauds.
A word to the wise…..
Around ninety-nine percent (99%) of all Casino frauds are not perpetrated against customers. All profitable casinos have one thing in common. Player trust.No player ever walked into a casino where they knew the games were not fair. Fair enough, after a losing streak we all have thought it, but in reality, if a casino cheats it’s customers, the customers don’t come back or come at all. So, it’s a pretty short lived casino then. No, it usually the casino operators who are the victims of fraud. Oh, okay, and the Tax man. More of which later.
In the meantime……….
Casinos don’t like armed robberies, at all, very bad for perceptions of customer safety and all that. Therefore the casino designers are usually very attentive as to where the Cash Desks are situated and that gaming tables and slot machine players are well out of line of sight from the entrances. Reception points are always staffed and there’s normally Security Officers near by and the ever present CCTV systems.
In the last couple of years there have been a casino equivalent of ‘Snatch and Run’ robberies in the United States. One highly successful Craps Tables snatch resulted in thousands of Dollars worth of chips being stolen. Unfortunately all chip thefts have one ultimate problem. Cash Out.
Those stolen chips, usually of high value, have to be redeemed. High value chips are always ‘Tracked’ by the casino staff, because normally only high rollers or big winners have them. These players names are known to the casino management; so if you pitch up at the Cage with large amounts of these things and have no back story.
Well, the chaps interviewing you next might be rather aggressive in their style.
Better by far is to access the cash directly. Now we’ve all seen ‘Oceans Eleven’ and all the others most likely, and good entertainment they are too. Though to be honest, most ‘Heists’ are a lot less sophisticated and a lot more violent.
A few years ago in sunny South Africa a regional casino/slots operation had employed a security services company to collect and count the cash taken into the machines and tables. This meant that full cash boxes and ‘stackers’ (metal cartridge which accepts and stores notes processed by the bill acceptors on a machine) would be taken away regularly and empty ones would be delivered.
Naturally the ‘Bad Boys’ had worked out that this could be a very easy way to rob the casino. So, on the day of a cash box collection they smashed down the external vehicle loading bay doors, shot up the place with AK’s to keep everyone’s heads down, and quick as they could threw all the boxes which were against the wall into their getaway truck. It took just minutes and they were away with their haul.
The Armed Response Unit of the local police were pretty quick to the scene, and at first they were very concerned.
They couldn’t understand why all the casino security officers were rolling about on the floor of the loading bay in fits of hysterical laughter!
‘Fast is good, – too fast……not so much’
It turns out that that the boxes the villains took, were in fact, the returning empty stackers and cash boxes. These had just been removed from the cash in transit vehicle. The ones full of all the lovely lolly, well, they were still behind the ‘inner security’ doors of the loading bay.
Luckily nobody was hurt with the gunfire, and no villains were enriched. Shame hey!
Back at the action in the gaming areas……….
So, the common place stupid thefts don’t always work out so well.
That leaves us with products of mankind’s ingenuity; and believe me, where cash is involved, folks can be very, very, ingenious.
Okay, lots of people have heard about ‘card counting’ on BlackJack; but before the creation of ‘Advantage Players’ there were players who just took advantage………
Lost in the mists of casino histories is the ‘BlackJack Shoe substitution’ scam. If you know of the Three Card Monty, you’ll be aware that there are in fact more than three cards in the Monty, just the ‘Mark’ isn’t supposed to see or know this.
This scam is essentially the same; but with the casino house as the ‘Mark’.
First find a BJ game where you can get identical cards and shoes to the ones in use in the casino. Then find a BJ table and dealer where folks are pretty slack and not security conscious. You’ll need a few players of course, who will play the table, and naturally, Granny.
Granny is very important. Granny has a big ‘Granny style’ handbag. Grannies bag is very special!
The bag has a trapdoor bottom. The bag contains a shoe which has been loaded with a predetermined order of cards. Which all the players know. As the dealer is just preparing to start dealing a ‘new’ shoe of cards after they have shuffled, the table works together to distract the staff. Granny moves in, drops out the set shoe and removes the shoe which the dealer has just prepared to deal from. The Granny toddles off to the nearest toilet and sets the cards in that stolen shoe, forming them up in the same order as the players are prepared for. Granny then returns to the gaming floor to await the next opportunity to swop out the shoe on the BJ table.
On the table the gaming staff know the players aren’t counting, but no matter how badly the players play, they just keep winning. Well they would, they know which card is coming out next! So unless the distraction fails, or Granny drops her bag, this one was difficult to catch.
This one isn’t done nowadays as most BlackJack Shoes are either the big automatic shufflers, or just chained to the table. So now you know why the shoe is chained to the table.
Certain tables have chips trays for the dealers float, others have vertical stacks.
This next scam is designed for Roulette, Dice or more frequently Baccarat tables.
The Vegas Cup
Back in the early 1980’s the World’s largest Southern Hemisphere Casino was Sun City in a Homeland in South Africa. At the end of that decade a certain American singer wrote a song about “not gonna play at Sun City”, which he never did, and quite frankly Mr. Springstein, nobody in that region actually missed you either.
Anyway, one of the World’s biggest and longest running Punto Banco (Baccarat) Vegas Cup scams did play at Sun City Casino, and here’s how.
The six Punto Banco tables in the Sun City ‘Privè’ (High Roller room) were very popular and every weekend the room was packed. High level action combined with high monetary values over several years attracted a professional cheat team. Who went on the recruit Croupiers, Supervisors and, importantly, Cashiers. The Privè had it’s own Cash Desk; after all it was a private area, so why wouldn’t it.
Ryder Cup – Vegas Cup?
Unlike sporting Cups, the Vegas cup is not at all sportsman like. It is designed for one thing only. Hiding high value cash chips inside the shell of what appears to be a small stack (usually five chips high) of lower value chips. Normally formed from a thin tube of metal, painted to look like the lower value chips, it would have, say, a real five value chip on the top and four painted five value chips underneath. Inside there is room for up to four High value chips.
So One Vegas Cup could in theory hold four hundred in cash equivalents. A player making a cash purchase of chips, who is part of the team could put a fifty note down and get ten five value chips as change from the Croupier. Except only five would be five value cash chips and the rest the loaded Vegas Cup.
The receiving player can then dump out the higher value chips. Play the Vegas Cup as a bet, and when it loses, buy the now freshly re-loaded Cup back from the Croupier to repeat the process.
Naturally, if Supervisors were watching closely they might spot the Vegas Cup on the table, which is why the cheat team had to include them. Similarly, when the players were cashing the chips out they would need to cash out with a Cashier who would not record the cash out to that player; least the Management become suspicions of the repeated and large scale wins.
This group worked the scam for many months, and stole a lot of money.
At the Casino Cash Desk……….
As you might imagine, the Casino Cash desk is a very secure area of any casino, and closely watched via CCTV, Audio microphones and management Supervisors.
Not that these things ever deterred a motivated thief.
A couple that spring to mind, though there are very many to pick from, are. The Cashiers Stack and Token Leakage.
Last first; really daft this one, and totally dependant on Cash Desks not being audited properly or not frequently enough. In the old days quarters and Dollars were used in the slot machines, and a high level of stock had to be carried to meet demand at high traffic times. This meant that there would be big bags of coins stored at the back of a vault in the cash desk, which pretty much never saw the light of day. Though they might feel the probing fingers of crafty cashiers wanting to ‘leak’ some coins.
Now these bags were sealed, but normally by the cashiers themselves during the coin counts. So guess who made it their life long ambition not to seal the bags tightly? Yep, the Cashiers in need of a pay raise.
Casino Cash Desk
Now the ‘Cashiers Stack’ on the other hand, is a bit more damaging.
Just like the Vegas Cup, it’s a tube painted to look like a stack of twenty chips.
Twenty ‘five’ value chips is worth one hundred, but twenty ‘twenty-five’ value chips is worth five hundred.
Substitute several stacks of twenty-five value chips, from trays at the back of the cash desk safe, and
these can be cycled around through the cash desk, with the assistance of the Cashiers ‘friend’, who acts as a regular player, again and again.
All the Cashier and their ‘Player’ have to do, is be careful never to exceed the total number of chips of any denomination being back in the Cash Desk at any one time. That is, to have more present than the casino actually bought in the first place, and to have a methodology to get the surplus returned chips and Cashiers Stacks into and out of the Cash Desk. Of which there can be many.
People and money, same story everywhere.
The Cash desk of course is more frequently the victim of fraud and theft, rather than being the centre for it. If you think a ‘Woman Scorned’ is a thing to fear; then you’ve never seen a Head Cashier’s reaction to being a victim of Credit Card fraud!
Foreign exchange scams with out of circulation currency, is passè now in the days of the internet, though cloned cards are currently a popular route. Which is why the players Identity is checked so carefully on admission these days.
Now Bankers Drafts on the other hand………..
Okay, this is an old story, as the internet has tightened up this avenue of scam as well. Though for those casinos in remote locations they are still a risk.
Junkets and Junket operators (Junketeers) frequently have a problem with the shear amounts of cash money which the players want to bring to and wager with, at a casino. Junket visits are generally quite short, three to four days being normal, and the ‘action’ can be intense, with both the players and the casino wanting to get as much money in play as possible – the ultimate ‘Risk vs. Reward’ situation.
Bankers Drafts are one way to facilitate this. These are literally a cash cheque guaranteed by the issuing bank.
So, if you can get a real one, and then ‘adjust‘ it to a higher value………
The biggest fraud of this type that I’m aware of happened thirty years ago, and it was perfectly executed.
Ten Hong Kong ‘businessmen’ were brought to the casino by the junketeer, who deposited some cash US dollars in their accounts at the cash desk, and then topped this up with Bankers Drafts of 800,000 Hong Kong Dollars each.
Except they weren’t; they had been issued as 800 hundred Hong Kong Dollar drafts, with the wordings and numbers typed and spaced in such a way that the extra words and numbers could be added after the financial instruments had been issued. So now the casino operator was holding 8 Million HK$ and had ten ‘High Rollers’ wanting to play.
This amount of deposit was higher than agreed, so naturally the Casino Manager called the Regional Gaming Director, who called the Head Office Accounting Director, who asked his staff to confirm the Drafts with the casinos Bankers, who of course had to call the corresponding Bank in Hong Kong. Got that? Good.
This is how scams like this work – the casino wants the money, the ‘players’ know this. The casino is just waiting to get the ‘confirmation’, before letting the action happen.
‘Like great sex and good comedy, timing is everything’
The Junket had arrived late afternoon on a Thursday, the deposits made that evening, and the Head Office informed on Friday morning, however, there was a six hour time difference between the Casino’s location, and Hong Kong. By the time the casino operators Bankers had called the Hong Kong Bank, they had closed for the weekend. It was a special weekend too, the ‘Mid-Autumn Festival’ which is one of the few public holidays where the Banks stay shut on the Monday as well, which of course the junket knew, but the casino management didn’t.
By now the ‘High Rollers’ had been eating and sleeping and playing, a little, on the credits in the cash desk. The players demanded the release of the funds on the drafts. This was a big ‘loss of face’ for the Chinese businessmen who had come over especially, and brought so much money.
At this point Casino Managers and Casino Directors have to make a judgement call. Even casino management gets greedy, so they issued the credit.
This is of course what the junket players were pressing for all along. In short it’s like winning the Lottery; a lottery you have yourself set up!
They played, they lost. They played some more, they won. Some more than others, but who cared, it wasn’t their money. Late on Sunday night the junket needed to settle with the casino as their flight was mid morning Monday.
The junket group had their flights paid for and rooms/food by the casino. Overall by way of luck had won. Which they took in cash (US Dollars).
By late Tuesday afternoon Head Office had got the Bankers Drafts confirmations.
Yes, the casino had been done over in fine style, by dodgy Chinese Junketeers.
Not always so sophisticated.
Some Cash desk crimes are not so gentle.
On Wednesday February 3rd, 2010, at the Casino Di Venezia, in Malta, there was a fine example of an armed raid. The villains got clean away and have never been caught. The staff were naturally very traumatised by the event, especially the Cashier on duty in the Cash Desk.
Though quite why the main safe had been opened and the cash and ‘valuables'(?) bagged up and left nearby to the cash desk counter; nobody ever made clear……..
Just saying. Not normal casino cash desk practise that.
Just, very ‘lucky’ for the villains I guess!
Pay your taxes………
Your most likely aware that casinos and gaming operators, SportsBooks and the like, all have to pay high taxes to the Government. So called ‘Sin Taxes’.
Though have you ever thought about who’s ‘Sins‘ they are?
Well just because someone sets up or owns, or even manages or works at, a gaming operation, doesn’t automatically qualify them as a ‘sinner’.
Nope; it’s you.
That’s right; good old Joe and Josephine Public.
Basically, the average Governmental tax rate on gaming is double the lowest standard tax rate for the public. This is because the dear old tax-man is fully aware that the folks with cash to gamble with, are the same ones who don’t generally pay their fair share to the tax-man. All the cash-in-hand trades, receipt-less transactions and brown envelopes for a contract, have to be spent somewhere.
So next time you lose in the casino, just think how your helping the tax man balance the books. Truly Karmic!
Be careful out there, it’s a fun world in the casino!