Australia’s Crown Resorts casinos have had to deal with a lot of issues lately. It’s bad enough that it has faced fraud charges from the outside and that its CEO resigned over mental health issues. Now, the casino operator also has to deal with fraud from the inside, as one of its dealers is appearing before a judge over charges he was running a scam that resulted in the loss of over US$311,000.
A former baccarat croupier, Michael Huo, is facing accusations of collusion over a scheme that he ran with three individuals at the tables. One of the four could possibly get off easy, while the other three have been charged with “engaging in conduct that corrupted a betting outcome, obtaining property by deception, and dealing with the proceeds of crime.”
The 35-year-old had been working as a croupier for Crown Melbourne for more than five years in the casino’s Mahogany VIP room. In 2017, between March 26 and May 1, Huo allegedly conspired with Yixuan Cui, Fiona Shum and Ke Wang to rig the games. While the floor bosses didn’t notice the activity, surveillance cameras witnessed as Huo would look at the top cards before telling his accomplices how to wager. The trio of ladies was able to win $335,000 in just 58 hours.
All four were arrested by casino security officers on May 1 after security cameras captured over 20 instances of Huo peaking at the cards. The youngest of the group, 25-year-old Wang, faces the least severe punishment. In exchange for clemency as a first-time offender, she won’t face jail time, but will be ordered to participate in a diversion program. The others could face up to 10 years in prison for their actions, but there’s a slight chance that the case could be thrown out.
Defense lawyers are contesting the arrests, saying that the casino had no legal right to arrest the individuals. It added that the surveillance footage doesn’t adequately show how much was won legally and how much was allegedly won through the scam. According to court transcripts, “Casino investigation manager Jason McHutchison said the surveillance team had spotted around 20 instances when Huo looked at the first few cards of each shoe, but under cross-examination from the defendants’ lawyers he struggled to explain the difference between money won through alleged cheating and apparently legitimate winnings.” The hearings are still underway and it’s still too early to call the winner.