It is often the case that when you hear stories about criminals in casinos, it’s one or more players. Often, they work in groups, targeting specific games or establishments. Sometimes they get away with millions of pounds before their ploy gets found out. Other times, they fail in their attempts to circumvent the law. Yet it isn’t always the players that commit such crimes. Sometimes, it is necessary to focus on the casino dealers, too. Various instances of dodgy dealers have occurred throughout time.
These dealers utilise their positions within the casinos to take advantage. Here, we’re going to look at certain instances where these dodgy dealers committed their crimes. There could be more cases than you think. You may have to keep an eye on the dealers in any casino you visit from now on!
Sydney Baccarat Dealer Convicted Over Scam
In 2020, the Sydney Star casino in Australia was at the centre of a $500,000 scam. While employed by the casino, baccarat dealer Hieu Duc Lam took to the criminal route. CCTV cameras caught him in action, partaking in the illegal betting scam. Through it, the casino found itself cheated out of the massive amount of money.
The former employee colluded with another staff member as well as a casino patron. In August of 2020, Lam began peeking and mesmerising cards. He would then use them in upcoming games of baccarat. Once he had consigned them to memory, he utilised a secure phone messaging app. This allowed him to inform him accomplice, a player in that game, of the order the cards were in. As a result, in less than one month, the group managed to net $467,700 in total.
After the casino caught him in the act, Lam ended up dismissed from his position. The case went to court, and he pleaded guilty to 15 counts of obtaining a financial advantage in a dishonest way. It was then that the Downing Centre local court sentenced him to two years in prison. Lam was to serve this via an intensive correction order, beginning in July 2021. The sentence also included 250 hours of community service work alongside.
Lam also had his gaming licence cancelled by the NSW Liquor and Gaming organisation.
Poker Dealer Serves as Inside Man for Casino Robbery
It’s one thing to be an informant on the order of playing cards, but it’s quite another to partake in robbery. Yet that is exactly the case surrounding David Wright from South Dublin. In August of 2018, he became an accomplice in such an effort. In fact, he was a professional poker dealer at a casino within Dublin. As the inside man, he was able to scout the place out for a €50,000 robbery.
The story goes that at 6:30pm on August 13th, the Fitzwilliam Card Club was to be the recipient of cash and cigarettes. Delivering these was an employee of the cash and carry business JR Byrne. The court heard that this employee used his own BMW to deliver the cash. That was the normal setup, and he had a key fob to gain entry to the casino. On the same floor as the cash office, Wright was a poker dealer at work.
As the cash and carry employee approached the casino, he saw a man jogging towards him. He believed the man to be a jogger, until he leapt at him, trying to grab his box of cash. A struggle ensued, and even though the attacker threatened to kill him, the BMW driver held on. After stumbling backwards and relinquishing the box, the raider ran off. Ireland’s garda identified two vehicles involved in the robbery of the cash. One was a silver Saab, utilised as the getaway car, and the other a Skoda Octavia. The latter brought the attacker to the scene of the crime.
Investigations discovered that Wright owned the Octavia. CCTV caught both cars driving to the scene before the robbery occurred. It was Wright seen driving the Octavia at that time. His banking activities were then investigated, too. Deposits of €2,500 and €1,100 occurred in the weeks following the attack. Wright was also on duty when the injured party had made previous cash deliveries.
The poker dealer pled guilty to stealing the cash and €700-worth of cigarettes from the casino. In his court appearance, judge Pauline Codd said he had betrayed his employer. She noted it as a breach of trust that was “significant” in nature. Yet it was also highlighted that Wright was afraid of the other individuals involved. Despite this, he could have warned his employer of the impending attack. As a result, she imposed a suspended prison sentence. In doing so, she also highlighted Wright’s efforts to rehabilitate himself in the time since.
Also, Wright was very helpful upon his arrest, while expressing his remorse as well. He spoke of wanting to apologise to the victim of the robbery. At the same time, the poker dealer said it was a friend who had approached him about the crime. He was asked to provide inside information about the movement of cash into the casino. The stolen money was never found, and no other people suffered prosecution as of January 2023.
Maryland Casino Dealer Sentenced to Prison
We’re heading across the seas to the state of Maryland for this story. Yes, even in the United States of America, casino dealers can engage in criminal acts!
We’re back to a baccarat dealer as well, with Ming Zhang of Alexandria, Virginia. The details of his baccarat cheating scheme are as follows.
On September 27, 2017, a player allegedly received a tip-off from Zhang. He informed the player that he would be dealing that day, and he could see an exposed part of the baccarat deck. The co-conspirator then photographed the deck. Afterwards, Zhang placed the once-exposed cards, unshuffled, into the plastic box to keep them organised. This, known as the “shoe”, is then utilised to deal cards out to players.
Zhang’s co-conspirator then placed large bets alongside other standard baccarat players. Of course, the dealer’s player friend was able to win on a frequent basis due to his pre-information. The following day, Zhang allegedly lied to investigators checking in to the player. He informed them that he had no knowledge of, nor had any participation in the cheating scheme.
This sort of activity took place between July and September of 2017. Zhang was present with various co-conspirators when they partook in the scam at another casino in Maryland. Prosecutors even said that Zhang met with one of the people involved at a hotel near a casino. This was so he could learn about how to insert himself into the scheme. During that meeting, he took $1,000 as his cut of the proceeds. Later on, he asked for even more money, according to prosecutors.
In December of 2019, U.S. District Judge Paul W. Grimm imposed sentence on Zhang. The 32-year-old received a federal prison sentence of 18 months. After that, he had to go through three years of supervised release. The total loss caused by Zhang and his co-conspirators was $1,046,560. The judge also entered an order for Zhang to pay restitution equating to that total amount. During court proceedings Zhang admitted to:
- Notifying one co-conspirator that he would be dealing baccarat at Casino 1 on September 27, 2017.
- Exposing a portion of the baccarat deck to that co-conspirator and allowing him to take a photograph of it.
- Lying to investigators at Casino 1 about his knowledge or involvement in the cheating scheme.
- Between July and September 2017, being present with the same co-conspirator and several others when they executed the scheme at Casino 2.
- Receiving a percentage of the winnings for his participation in the scheme.
Toronto Police Arrest Cheating Casino Dealer
Now to a more recent incident, which occurred in October of 2022. The Ontario Provincial Police Investigation and Enforcement Bureau released a report. It stated that table games dealer, Arthur Segovia, 52, was on the receiving end of charges. It alleges that he was colluding with four others to cheat at a Toronto casino. The report, released in April of the following year, claims that allegations against the dealer came in 2022. Those allegations suggested that Segovia was operating in the Casino Woodbine in Etobicoke.
The police have charged him with cheating at play and criminal breach of trust. He also stood accused of fraud of more than CA$5,000 and theft of CA$5,000+. The four people in collusion with Segovia, aged between 25 and 33, were also charged with fraud and theft.
The five of them were all released from custody and have future court dates scheduled. Authorities are continuing on with their investigation into the scheme.
Live Casino Dealer Bets on His Own Games!
Earlier on in April of this year, another story broke about a dodgy dealer. Sebastian Echeverri worked as a live online casino shuffler in Connecticut. His position was with the Evolution brand, which is well-known for its live dealer games. Echeverri’s role saw him shuffling and dealing cards for live rounds of blackjack. Yet in the course of shuffling and prepping the cards, he was also manipulating them. He placed the cards into a specific order that only he knew about.
He had also opened three different accounts with the DraftKings online casino. That site utilises software from Evolution to provide its players with live blackjack. With the three accounts, Echeverri was able to place wagers on his own games. By manipulating the deck of cards, he was able to cheat in more than 26 rounds. This saw him win at least $47,000 from the DraftKings site.
An investigation began into a potential cheating scam in January of 2023. The Statewide Organised Crime Investigative Task Force spearheaded this. Their tip off came from the Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division. It was then discovered that one of the accounts Echeverri used at DraftKings was already flagged. Suspicious activity on the account had alerted the casino to a possible scam. Investigators learned that the dealer accessed the account through a specific device. Through that, he was also able to log in to the Evolution employee portal.
The 23-year-old dealer from Norwalk then learned that there was a warrant for his arrest. Thus, he turned himself in to Troop G in Bridgeport. Echeverri was then released on a $50,000 bond and appeared in court on April 20. Both video and documents displayed Echeverri manipulating the blackjack hands. This allowed him to help his own agenda for the online bets he placed. Upon first meeting with investigators, the live dealer admitted controlling the three accounts. He also came forward to admit his tampering of the cards and the placing of the bets.
It Mostly Impacts Card Games
As you can tell, it’s not only dodgy players that casinos need to worry about. Sometimes, the people they add to their employee list aren’t trustworthy, either. Of course, the control, in most cases, rests with card games. Dealers are able to get much more of a handle on manipulating the cards. It’s not the same with games like roulette, for example. Croupiers do control the flow of these games, but it’s a lot harder to conduct a roulette scam. After all, there would need to be a specific fault with the wheel that they can exploit.
This is why card dealers are much more likely to be part of casino cheating schemes. That’s not to say that players haven’t utilised methods to cheat when playing roulette. Yet this doesn’t fall into the category of casino employee cheating. Anything is likely possible though, so you never know what may come to light in future.