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July 24, 2014

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Casino gaming cheats are increasingly sophisticated, panelists say

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L.E. Baskow

George Joseph performs sleight-of-hand techniques during a Courtroom Conversation at the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The Mob Museum is playing host to “Beating the Odds: An Inside Look at Casino Cheating” in its historic courtroom.

The Mob Museum Talks Casino Cheating

George Joseph shows off an opaque domino during a Courtroom Conversation at the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement on Wednesday, May 21, 2014.  The MOB Museum is playing host for Launch slideshow »

Casino security is more sophisticated and so are those looking to game the system.

Three experts spoke Wednesday night at the Mob Museum about the decades-long arms race between cheaters and casinos.

“As long as there has been casino gaming there have been people who have tried to cheat it,” said James Taylor, deputy chief of Special Investigations and Support Services for the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, to a crowd of about 100 people.

Taylor has sent chips flying as he tackled tricksters to the floor and nabbed swindlers so prolific in their deceit that they’ve landed in Nevada’s Black Book, which is a list of people banned from casinos.

The Gaming Control Board arrests about 500 people a year for trying to cheat, according to Taylor. About a third of those arrests are casino employees, he said.

Speakers took the audience through old school tricks of the trade, such as false shuffles, to more modern-day feats of subterfuge, such as infrared contact lenses that let the wearer see marked cards.

Click to enlarge photo

George Joseph shows some sleight-of-hand techniques during a Courtroom Conversation at the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The MOB Museum is playing host for "Beating the Odds, An Inside Look at Casino Cheating" in its historic courtroom.

The event, dubbed “Beating the Odds — an Inside Look at Casino Cheating,” included three speakers: Taylor, Bill Zender and George Joseph.

Joseph, the president of Worldwide Casino Consulting, a Nevada-based corporation that does casino game protection training, got his start in Las Vegas gaming as a dealer and entertainer in 1974. He went on to work as the corporate director of surveillance for the Bally Corp. Casinos for 10 years.

Joseph demonstrated card tricks, showing how casinos cut down on scammers by making a simple adjustment. The casinos started placing big logos on the back of cards, which ruined an illusion designed to trick an onlooker into thinking a dealer is dealing from the top of the deck when he isn’t, Joseph said.

Zender, a gaming consultant, who is a former Gaming Control agent, casino operator and professional card counter, said concern is increasing about tricks cheaters can do using video technology and ultraviolet and infrared light. Casinos can sort of see what scams are trending, but enforcers don’t really know until a new scheme pops up, he said. When a new con emerges, the hope is the casinos are prepped to tackle it, he said.

Still, it isn’t all about fighting gadgets with gadgets.

“You can teach people what to look for — but do they have the ability to see it?” Joseph remarked when the panelists were asked what sort of education it takes to catch cheaters. “It’s almost like a talent.”

The event was part of the Mob Museum's Courtroom Conversations, which are talks designed to advance the museum's mission of educating the public about organized crime's history and its impact on American society, a press release said.

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