Casino cheaters are having a bad week. Greek-American gambler Anargyros Karabourniotis aka Archie Karas (pictured), was arrested on Tuesday at his Las Vegas home on suspicion of ‘card-marking’ while playing blackjack at the Barona Resort & Casino in Lakeside, CA. San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Karabourniotis had earned $8k via his suspected cheating at the Barona before his “luck ran out thanks to extraordinary cooperation between several different law agencies.” Charged with burglary, winning by fraudulent means and cheating, Karabourniotis is being held without bail pending an extradition hearing on Monday. If convicted on all counts, the 62-year-old Karabourniotis faces up to three years in prison.
The Karabourniotis incident follows a recent arrest at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut, in which a stud poker player was found to be wearing infrared contact lenses that allowed him to detect cards he’d previously marked with invisible ink. A similar scam resulted in prison sentences and hefty fines for a gang of Italian poker players who nearly got away with bilking Groupe Lucien Barriere’s Les Princes casino in Cannes, France out of €100k.
Karabourniotis has been charged with cheating at cards on four separate occasions by Nevada authorities, including one incident of card-marking dating back to 1988. In each case, Karabourniotis reached a deal to plead the case down to a misdemeanor. Regardless, Karabourniotis was called “a threat to the gaming industry in many jurisdictions” by Nevada Gaming Control Board enforcement chief Karl Bennison.
There’s no doubt that casinos are getting much better at sharing info on cheaters. The recent incident at the Mohegan Sun was detected following a warning issued by the L’Auberge Casino in Louisiana. The Mohegan’s director of public safety Joseph Lavin told the Associated Press that “if something happens at [neighboring Connecticut casino] Foxwoods at 1:00, we’ll be aware of it no later than 2, 2:30.” Lavin said it wouldn’t take “more than a day or so” before that info was in the hands of casino security in Atlantic City, Pennsylvania and New York.
Karabourniotis made his name after an incredible run of good fortune that saw the gambler turn $50 into $40m over a three-year span playing poker, baccarat, craps and billiards at Vegas casinos in the early 1990s. Although Karabourniotis subsequently went on to lose that entire bankroll, the Barona allegations offer more justification to consider all Karabourniotis’ past achievements as suspect, much as we now view cyclist Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France triumphs as tainted due to his admission of taking performance enhancing drugs.
Which is sad, because, really, heroes are increasingly hard to come by in this cynical modern age. What’s next? Will tomorrow bring news that Doyle Brunson’s signature 10-gallon hat was found to contain a miniature video camera? Has legendary basketball bettor Haralabos ‘Bob’ Voulgaris had the NBA’s commissioner’s kids tied up in the basement this whole time? Say it ain’t so, Joe…