$400K Cheating Scam at Crown Casino Melbourne
A Crown Casino Melbourne baccarat dealer and three high-rolling associates appeared before the Australian court on Tuesday after accusations of an attempt to swindle the casino out of over AU$400,000.
According to prosecutors, croupier Michael Huo, 35, viewed the top cards of the deck and signaled which would be dealt next to his conspirators Fiona Shum, 46, Yixuan Cui, 22, and Ke Wang 25.
The apparent scam occurred in Crown Casino Melbourne’s exclusive Mahogany VIP room. While their actions were unnoticed by other casino employees, they were eventually found out by the eye in the sky.
The three accused women made AU$431,700 ($335,000) during a five-week time frame last year, amounting to almost 60 hours of play, while at Huo’s baccarat table. All except Wang were subsequently charged with behaving in a way that corrupted a betting outcome, acquiring property by deception, and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Casino security staff detained the accused during play on May 1, during which “numerous instances of suspicious card handling by the accused (Huo) at the table,” said the prosecution. It alleged, “The total amount of winnings on the first hand that evening was significant.”
According to casino investigation manager, Jason McHutchison, the surveillance team identified approximately 20 occasions when Huo peeked at the first few cards of each shoe. However, under cross-examination from the defendants’ lawyers, McHutchison found it difficult to distinguish between winnings that were acquired via legitimate means and the winnings associated with instances of alleged cheating.
Defense lawyers also questioned the Crown Casino Melbourne security team’s legal right to detain and interrogate the defendants. According to Hou’s attorney, Peter Haag, his client had been held for in excess of three hours before the police had arrived.
Bruce Walmsley, Queen’s Counsel for Ms Shum, asked casino investigator Timothy Sharland whether he knew that, as a public citizen, he was not “entitled to deprive [Shum] of those chips and cash?”
Sharland said that he did not, and explained how “I believed at the time that the dealer was colluding with the three patrons to steal from Crown, and I believed that money belonged to Crown. It had been obtained illegally.”
Wang was acknowledged by the prosecution to be the least serious offender, and will be placed on the court’s diversion program. This entails that people who have committed a crime for the first time will not receive a criminal record provided they take responsibility for their wrongdoing by admitting guilt and working with the prosecution. Wang’s involvement was much lower than her co-conspirators, only about AU$1,900 ($1,500) in alleged illegal winnings, prosecutors disclosed.