Cheating ring busted at Cherokee casino

Cherokee, North Carolina – Investigators have stopped a cheating ring that stole USD 286,000 at the Cherokee Indian casino in western North Carolina, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

No arrests have been made but investigators are questioning a 26-year-old electronic card dealer at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.

Cherokee Indian Police Department Chief Ben Reed said the FBI had been contacted. Arrests are likely after authorities decide whether the FBI or tribal police will handle the case, Reed said.

Officials said the cheating ring operated for about three weeks before it was stopped. Officials also said 11 gamblers are suspected of being involved.

Computer programs that match the money paid with winnings recorded on the gambling floor alerted officials to the problem.

„We want to assure the public that this scheme never put any patrons or the public in danger and this amounted to a system where a single employee had decided to help a group of players cheat at the table games,“ said Patrick Lambert, executive director of the Cherokee Tribal Gaming Commission, which regulates gambling operations at the casino.

„We will be pushing for full prosecution of all those involved in this theft.“

The casino has digital blackjack and a digital game based on baccarat and cheating in the traditional sense is difficult because cards are dealt electronically and show up on a screen. The casino’s other games are video-poker-type machines.

Lambert said the cheating occurred when gamblers were paid for wins that didn’t happen. Players cashed their winnings and gave the dealer a kickback, he said.

Lambert said discovery of the ring was the first time cheating had been discovered at the casino, where the gambling floor is monitored by cameras.