Two Las Vegas Dealers (James Russell Cooper Jr. and Mark William Branco) and two of their friends (Jeffrey D. Martin and Anthony Grant) were indicted on Wednesday on felony charges of cheating at gambling and theft. The men, who were arrested last July, are alleged to have siphoned more than $1 million off craps tables over two years.
The dice-game scam involved the dealers accepting late or unclear bets and paying out winnings at times when colleagues and supervisors generally weren’t aware what was happening, James Taylor, a Nevada State Gaming Control Board deputy chief, told Yahoo news. Cooper Jr. and Branco were fired from the Bellagio when the alleged scheme came to light.
Taylor also reported to the Associated Press that 350 to 500 people are arrested in Las Vegas each year for cheating.
“If you have a dirty inside person, he can slide a bet to the boxman and then just pay out whatever the [dice] roll is,” Jim Tatonetti, a longtime former casino dealer who now works with a Las Vegas security firm, told the AP. “If the bet is not clearly identified, it can be ambiguous for when a payout happens.”
The arrests came after another dealer became suspicious and alerted authorities. MGM Resorts International, the Bellagio’s parent company, figured out the scheme after going over video footage of the men both working and gambling in the casino.
“They were making wagers after the outcome was known and paying them off, or they were just putting wagers in and paying them out,” Taylor said.
Following his arrest, Cooper testified before the grand jury which ultimately led to the issuing of arrest warrants.
(Photo credit: Clark County Detention Center)
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