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November 25, 2014

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Casino reimburses players in tourney marred by fake chips

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Wayne Parry / AP

In this June 6, 2013, photo, a dealer waits as a gambler places chips on a roulette table at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City N.J.

ATLANTIC CITY — A New Jersey casino is reimbursing players in a poker tournament that was suspended after counterfeit chips were discovered.

More than 2,100 entrants who finished outside the top 450 and played in the same room as the North Carolina man who is accused of introducing the fake chips will get $560, including a refund of their $60 entry fees from the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

The final 27 players are to share the remaining prize money, which comes to $19,323 each.

The 423 gamblers who fell outside the top 27 but in the money are not to get further payments. But those who have not been paid will be.

All entrants will get back their $60 fee under the deal, which was ordered by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Between fees refunds and prizes, the casino is to pay out $1.7 million.

The Borgata enhanced security and introduced more intricate chips for its poker tournament last week.

Christan Lusardi of Fayetteville, N.C., was charged with theft and rigging a public contest after the January tournament was suspended over the fake chips.

Authorities said Lusardi, suspecting his fake chips had been noticed, flushed them down the toilet in his hotel room at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, where he had been staying. But the chips clogged the pipes, and guests on the floor below complained that water was dripping into their rooms.

Maintenance was called, and they found the chips, with a tournament value of 2.7 million, although they had no actual cash value.

Lusardi is in custody awaiting trial, and it's unclear whether he has hired an attorney.

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