Casino de Monte Carlo scammers jailed; Bellagio craps scammers plead guilty

casino-de-monte-carlo-roulette-scamThree UK gamblers have been sentenced to lengthy stints in prison for a scam that took a Monte Carlo casino for nearly €3.7m.

On Monday, a Monaco court sentenced Sajid Rashid and Qamar Hussain to 30 months in prison, while Zahidul Haque Khan received a 10-month sentence.

Prosecutors accused the trio of running a year-long scam which involved passing off €10 casino tokens as €1k tokens at roulette tables in the Casino de Monte-Carlo, a property run (like all of Monaco’s gaming venues) by the state-owned Société des bains de mer de Monaco (SBM).

The scam preyed upon a vulnerability at the casino’s roulette tables, where the tokens issued have no face value. Surveillance footage revealed that the trio had been slipping tokens purchased at €10 into their pockets, then sneaking the tokens back into play after upping their buy-in value to €1k. Adding insult to injury, the three supposed high-rollers had been comped a suite at an SBM hotel during their exploits.

The scam went on between April 2014 and June 2015, when the trio were finally arrested. Rashid, who was described as the trio’s ringleader, has previously served 14 months for similar escapades in the UK. Despite their estimated total haul, the trio was only ordered to repay €850k of their ill-gotten gains.

Across the pond in Las Vegas, the last of the craps cheaters who scammed the Bellagio out of $1.5m over a two-year period have admitted their guilt. Former Bellagio craps dealer Mark Branco and accomplice Anthony Granito pled guilty last Thursday, joining fellow dealer James Cooper and another accomplice, Jeffrey Martin, who have already owned up to their complicity in the caper.

The scam involved Granito or Martin placing bogus hop bets, the verbal directions craps players are allowed to give dealers as they shoot their dice. Granito and Martin would mumble something under their breath during their throw, and Branco and Cooper would pay off on the hop bet’s higher stakes regardless of whatever number the dice ended up showing.

Branco, Granito and Martin could face prison stints of over three years when they come up for sentencing sometime next year. Cooper, who cooperated with authorities the minute the scam was exposed, will likely face a reduced sentence once the other members of the gang have learned their fate.