Here are some stories about various issues dealing with casino chips, including theft and counterfeit chips.
A high-ranking military official is under investogation by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation for possibly using counterfeit poker chips. Timothy Giardina, was gambling at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa when the alleged crime took place. It is unclear what stakes he was playing.
Early in the morning on October 10, Akingide Cole of Palmdale, California somehow gained access to a restricted area in the Venetian casino and stole $1.6 million in high-denomination casino chips. They did not rule out the possibility of an inside job. But if Cole attempts to return to the Venetian to cash in his loot, his chips will be immediately flagged. Police are now actively searching for him. On the days after the robbery, but before news of the robbery had broken, poker players on the internet had reported strange encounters with the cashiers at the Venetian when trying to cash out high denomination chips.
In 2012, a delivery man was jailed 32 months for using fake casino chips at the Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) casino in Singapore. Neo Seow Hua, 34, used six fake $500 chips to play baccarat. He left the casino after losing all the chips. The fake chips were discovered the same day when three other customers tried to cash them in. The customers were cleared of wrongdoing by the police after investigations showed they had innocently obtained the counterfeit chips while gambling.Neo pleaded guilty to three counts of using the counterfeit chips. He had 92 total chips made in a factory in China and received them by courier. When the news broke that his three fake chips had been detected by the casino he played at, he went and threw the remaining chips into the sea. The casino spent 415,400 euros replacing the $500 chips it had recalled. Neo could have been fined up to $150,000 and/or jailed for up to seven years for each charge.
Jolanda Michelle Hart, 41, faced prosecution on charges that allegedly tried to cash out $600 in counterfeit gambling chips at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino & Restaurant in Biloxi. She faced six counts of possession of counterfeit chips. After Hart went to the cashier's cage with six counterfeit chips, each had a face value of $100; the cashier immediately recognized that something was wrong with the chips. After security apprehended Hart, casino officials handed her over to the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
Officials are investigating how she got hold of the counterfeit chips, but they believe the casino's employees were not involved. Under state law, the only people authorized to be in possession of counterfeit gambling chips are casino employees who use them for training purposes. If found guilty on all six counts, Hart faces maximum penalties of $60,000 in fines and/or 12 years in prison.
Later, three more people were arrested and accused of conspiring to use counterfeit chips to get cash, according to agents with the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Larry Lee Cronk, 36, Anjali Jones, 60, and Kenneth Rusty Lee, 29, were accused of participating in the conspiracy with Hart.
Anthony Carleo, the 30-year-old man who called himself the "biker bandit", will serve between 9 and 27 years after he stole $1.5 million in casino chips at gunpoint from a craps table at the casino’s pit area on Dec. 14, 2010. After stealing the chips, he then ran through the casino wearing a motorcycle helmet that covered his face, and escaped on a motorcycle. As soon as the chips were stolen though, they became worthless because the Bellagio switched out all the chips in the casino within an hour of the robbery, and instantly went on alert to scrutinize any chips being cashed in.
Carleo was arrested on January 28th, 2010. There was an extensive investigation crossing involving crossing state lines as several people came forward with tips linking Carleo to the robbery. One tip came from a friend of his who contacted authorities after fearing Carleo might rob another casino. The friend, who had played poker with Carleo, told police Carleo confessed to the Bellagio robbery and owed more than $250,000 to the mob. Another tip came from a poker dealer at the Bellagio who contacted police. The dealer stated that he thought Carleo might be involved based on conversations the dealer had with Carleo both before and after the robbery. Carleo made references about making quick money by robbing a casino on a motorcycle. Police received another tip on Jan. 28 from a man named Matthew Brooks Virginia who had contacted Bellagio investigators because he thought he had spoken to the Bellagio robber on the Internet, according to the arrest report. The two men had begun a conversation on the TwoPlusTwo.com forums (his screenname was “Oceanspray25") on Jan. 16 and later exchanged e-mails, which were signed “Biker Bandit”. The man tried to sell him some of the stolen $25,000 chips and had allegedly confessed to the Bellagio robbery. Police traced the emails Carleo's street in Las Vegas.
The first of the missing high-value chips surfaced when a Salvation Army bell-ringer raised suspicion when he tried to cash in a $25,000 chip at the Bellagio. The bell-ringer told casino security that a stranger had given him the chip while he was working at a donation kettle on the Las Vegas strip. Police released him after they interviewed him.
From the time of the robbery through Jan. 22, Carleo lost more than $107,000 gambling at the Bellagio, despite telling police during an interview on Jan. 3 that he was a college student with no income. U.S. Treasury Records indicate he had nine cash transactions in excess of $10,000 from the day of the Bellagio robbery through Dec. 23. Carleo had been staying at the Bellagio from at least Jan. 19 until Jan. 26, and received comped rooms, meals and beverages based on his high gambling. Bellagio’s security team put Carleo under surveillance beginning Jan. 19 because his gambling seemed suspicious and they suspected he was cashing chips that weren’t part of his winnings.
Carleo was arrested while staying at the Bellagio after an undercover police arranged a sting. Carleo allegedly sold the undercover officer several $25,000 chips on Jan. 28. Carleo confessed to his involvement in the robbery during questioning by investigators following the arrest. Police recovered $900,000 worth of chips and have accounted for another $300,000 in chips. Several hundred thousand have still not been accounted for. Investigators stated that they suspect the Bellagio robber was the same man who robbed $20,000 from the Suncoast on Dec. 9 during a holdup at a cashier’s cage.
As a result of the robbery, the casino announced that they are doing away with the $25,000 denomination chip.
There was an incident that became famous on the internet where a well-known poker player named Nolan Dolla couldn't cash out a $5,000 chip at the MGM Grand that was given to him by a friend. This incident was based on the rule that states that casinos are not required to cash out any chips if they believe the person cashing them out is not the owner of the chips. After contacting the Nevada Gaming Commission (the regulatory body entrusting with ensuring that casinos pay out players), the GNC said there was nothing it could do. Even an article in the widely-read Las Vegas Sun failed to sway MGM.
The issue brought up an interesting legal question regarding gambler's rights and whether or not the burden of proof should be on the casino instead of the player. It is not uncommon for large gamblers to keep their bankroll stored in chips to avoid carrying around large amounts of cash. If you do accept a large-denomination chip from a friend, it is advised that you break broken down the chip into smaller denominations, preferably by playing at the same casino where you will cash it out.
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