Cheating and casinos go hand-in-hand (pun?). It’s not hard to figure out why. Not only is the possibility of winning fast money tempting, but often people have the attitude that it is ok to cheat because the casino takes our money routinely and always has a mathematical edge. And for some weird reason, I really enjoy casino cheating or crime stories. Nothing violent mind you, but there is something about the brazenness of the cheaters that is just fascinating. In the case of Hieu Duc Lam, a former baccarat dealer at Star Sydney casino in Australia, the scheme was so simple, but of course, so easy to catch.
The New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) issued a statement over the weekend, explaining that Lam has been convicted for his leading role in cheating the casino out of nearly half a million dollars and has been sentence to two years in prison and 250 hours community service.
There was no real elegance to Lam’s scheme, which is probably a major reason why he was nabbed. Closed camera security footage showed Lam sneaking a peak at the top cards in the deck as he prepared the deck for the shoe. According to the ILGA, he then relayed the cards via a secure messaging app called Wickr to an accomplice, Ziu Liu, who was playing at his table.
A short portion of the security video shared by the ILGA shows Lam checking the cards on a couple different occasions, as well as Liu checking the Wickr app on his phone (though you can’t really see exactly what is on his screen).
Knowing what cards were coming, Liu was able to make perfect bets, racking up $467,700 in profits in less than a month last year.
Needless to say, once Lam was caught, Star Sydney fired him. The ILGA also ripped up his gaming license.
“A casino special employee is licensed to supervise and facilitate gaming activities,” The Star’s Philip Crawford said. “Their role is to help safeguard the integrity of casino operations from criminal influence, serious misconduct or exploitation, and a special degree of trust is placed in them. This case demonstrates a clear breach of that trust.”
As the ILGA mentioned in its press release, this is just the latest incident of employees breaking bad at Star Sydney. In March, two employees were convicted for stealing more than $30,000 in chips from the casino.
Baccarat dealer (former baccarat dealer to be specific) Richard Quach took five chips off of his table while dealing a hand last year, hiding them in his sock. Security footage shows him putting chips on the table after dealing cards to the players. After distributing payouts and collecting cards, he showed his hands like dealers do, but then placed them over the chip rack, secretly took chips from the rack, and put them in his sock.
It was a pretty quick move and tough to see at first, but is obvious once shown on video. In one week, he stole $11,000 in chips.
Separately, another dealer, Pharadorn Naweesakorn, was spotted giving a player $6,000 worth of chips in exchange for just $1,000 cash. In all, he overpaid the customer $20,000 in four attempts at the scam.