ATLANTIC CITY — At first, it seemed like a coincidence, the kind of thing that happens from time to time at a casino, where the same number or same sequence of cards happens twice in a row.But when the players at an April game of mini-baccarat at the Golden Nugget Atlantic City kept seeing the same sequence of cards dealt, over and over and over again, their eyes grew wide and their bets grew bigger, zooming from $10 a hand to $5,000.Forty-one consecutive winning hands later, the 14 players had racked up more than $1.5 million in winnings — surrounded by casino security convinced they had cheated but unable to prove how.In a lawsuit against a Kansas City playing card manufacturer, the Golden Nugget contends the cards were unshuffled, despite being promised to be pre-shuffled and ready to use.The April 30 incident was the latest instance of unshuffled cards causing big headaches for an Atlantic City casino. In December, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort used unshuffled mini-baccarat cards for 3½ hours before realizing something was wrong. That episode led to a $91,000 fine against the casino, which fired nine people it said were involved.
Q. You’ve mentioned that video poker pay tables in the Chicago area have gone down. I asked a slot manager about it, and he said it’s because of the high gaming tax in Illinois, and they can’t do anything about it. Do you think that’s right?
A. The gaming tax paid by casinos in Illinois is high, with marginal rates on a sliding scale from 15 percent to 50 percent of gambling revenue. Indiana also is high, with a top rate of 40 percent, compared with 22 percent in Iowa, 21 percent Missouri or 6.75 percent in Nevada.
However, that same Illinois tax structure was in place five years ago, and players then had a large selection of games returning 99 percent-plus with expert play. There were even more good plays available a few years earlier, when Illinois imposed a top tax rate of 70 percent. Weaker pay tables clearly are not directly linked to tax rates.
Still, we have seen a de-emphasis on shot to win as a way casinos attempt to attract players. We see it not only in video poker, but at blackjack where nearly all tables in the area now have the dealer hit soft 17. That adds two-tenths of a percent to the house edge, a huge jump for a basic strategy player.
It never pays to cheat
TOLEDO, Ohio AP — Authorities say 11 people, including a casino dealer, have been accused of cheating at a casino in Toledo.The charges announced Wednesday are the first since the Hollywood Casino in Toledo opened in late May.Among those charged are a dealer who authorities say was making fraudulent wagers for a man at a craps table where she was working.Authorities also alleged six people took part in an organized roulette scam during the casino’s first few days of operation. Those six are from New York and New Jersey and face a total of 29 felony counts.Toledo’s casino was the second to open in Ohio this year.Prosecutors also have accused seven other people of trying to cheat at the new Horseshoe casino in Cleveland.