Vegas Casinos Warns Baccarat Syndicate

The Chinese New Year holiday is just about to begin and casinos on the Vegas strip are preparing in earnest for one of the year’s most extravagant gambling events. Casinos will be rolling out the red carpet for baccarat players, security officials at casinos will be on the lookout for a group of baccarat cheaters which conned one casino on the strip out of a $1 million recently.

The state’s Gaming Control Board officials incarcerated a group of baccarat players at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, the casino felt it has been the victim of a scam that had a player “cut” the deck by dragging the cut card over the top of the deck and managed to separate the cards from one each other with his index finger.

Using a small camera hid under the gambler’s sleeve, the player is able to keep track of the value and suit of every card and makes use of the data gathered later.

The casino suspected the gambler of videotaping the cards, it could not be detected. As a result the gambler and his accomplices were released due to lack of evidence, said casino security consultant Bill Zender, who’s responsible for spotting any irregularities within the casino.

The culprit of this scam is an Asian group that goes by the name of the “cutters”, rumour has it that they have conned casinos worldwide for tens of millions of dollars, Zender said. Their scam has been perfected in Asian casinos and now this infamous group has taken their diabolical scam to U.S casinos, he said.

The group has perfected this scam by transferring the camera images to a computer where the chain of cards in the deck is written on a cheat sheet, he said. A group associated with the cheating ring enters the casino, joins a table and bets accordingly when the pre-recorded sequence of cards emerges, he said.

Normally dealers cut the cards once they’ve been shuffled, baccarat dealers ask players to cut decks after the cards are shuffled. Like shuffling, the reason casinos cut cards is to ensure a random outcome. The player is perfectly forming part of the scam, is aware which cards will be played next because he immediately sits down to gamble after his partner in crime has determined the value of the cards and while the series of videotaped cards is still in play.

Unlike card games like blackjack which makes use of a strategy, offering players choices on how to play their hands, in baccarat players play according to the cards they are dealt — in essence it makes it easier cheats to ascertain which cards will fall their way so they can bet big, for example.

Authorities in Macau issued a warning to casinos about this scam last year, according to an industry memo circulating among Las Vegas casinos. This baccarat syndicate is very well informed and prepared,” the memo said.

The alleged cheats at the Cosmopolitan casino weren’t taken into custody because it wasn’t noticeable to the casual onlooker if the gambler made use of a camera whilst he was playing. This is a violation of Nevada law, Zender said. To conduct a full body search police need a very good reason to do so in order to determine whether a gambler is concealing a cheating appliance under his clothing, he said.

Jerry Markling, who happens to be The Gaming Control Board’s enforcement chief, wasn’t prepared to divulge any further details on the scam. However, he said an investigation is underway to try and expose and prosecute the Asian baccarat cheating ring. Asian authorities and casinos are in cooperation with U.S casino authorities assisting in the investigation, he said.

Even though the suspected cheats are still at large, Markling said it won’t take long before they are caught; since they’ll be seeking to scam another casino. Knowing how the perpetrators look like will discourage the first group from trying their scam at top casinos on the Vegas strip. It is believed the size of the “cutters,” ring have dozens of members, Zender said.



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