Back in 2013, a group of gamblers from New York were caught "mid roulette scam". They have since been linked to a whole series of roulette scams- all in Ohio State in the US. The gang, consisting of around 13 members, had been scamming 4 casinos across Ohio State. This scam was on a bigger scale than many that we have come across, such as the Coral Island roulette scam in Blackpool, UK. It's also alot smarter than this scheme in Bristol where 2 fraudsters literally lifted the lid on roulette and caught caught on CCTV. Everything is bigger in the States!
The Ohio chapter of the ring was very organised. The methods they used were sophisticated enough to throw the casinos off their scent for many years, and it is thought that they may be part of a bigger group of some seventy individuals.
Gamblers from the Bronx and New Jersey have been arrested and were sentenced at a Cincinnati court.
The scam was launched at the Hollywood Casino in Toledo. The Horseshoe Casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati were also targeted, as was the Hollywood Casino in Columbus. 6 scammers were arrested in Toledo.
Hollywood Casino, Toledo, Ohio
What Was the Roulette Scam?
The used a method called the “colour-up or color-up" scam. At the roulette table, players are given different colour chips- when there is a big crowd at the table, it can become difficult for the dealer to keep track of individual bets. The coloured chips help the dealer to work out whose chips are whose.
So here's how the scam works. One scammer buys $1 chips. After their session, they cash out but before they do they pocket some of the chips that were meant to be go back to the dealer. The player then heads off to the Gents and gives the chips off to another member of the ring, who heads back to the roulette table and purchased higher $ chips with the same colour as the $1 chips in his pocket. After a few spins at the table, the player cashes out the chips that were bought for a dollar for a higher amount. The best scams are the simplest! It´s a variation on this roulette scam from Monte Carlo which also involves swapping out casinos chips.
With a big group, it becomes even easier to hand over cheap chips to other players who later cash them in for a higher value. In a couple of hours, they were scooping profits of a thousand dollars or more. Multiply that by 4 casinos over a prolonged period of time, and you have a "nice little earner" as they say in the trade. The casino pit boss is left scratching his head as to why the punters are winning so much at the roulette table when the house edge is over 5% on American Roulette.
It all Ended in Tears.
As often happens with these kinds of scams, the scammers got greedy, and the casinos found out what was going on. And then they got the police in, who gathered all the evidence and arrested them. Then it's a case of "Go directly to jail. Do no pass "Go".
But for John Barron, the chief legal counsel for the Ohio Casino Control Commission, this ring of color-up scammers is in for a rough ride. “These are professional cheaters who threaten the integrity of gaming in Ohio,” said Barron. He says the state of Ohio will aggressively prosecute the cases to make an example out of the cheaters.
4 men pleaded guilty to cheating the casinos in Ohio in July 2013 and in August were sentenced in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. A warrant was issued for another man.