The Franklin County Prosecutor has announced the first indictments related to cheating at the Columbus casino that has been open about six weeks. WOSU reports arraignments are scheduled in the next couple of weeks.
Ten people from the Columbus area have been indicted on several felony cheating charges at the Hollywood Casino on West Broad Street. The cases are separate and unrelated.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says the players cheated on table games…blackjack, craps, baccarat and roulette. O’Brien describes one technique.
“Adding to the bet previously made. If I bet four chips on roulette, as I see the ball going down, I add some chips to it so that the win is going to pay better because I have eight chips on it now instead of four.”
That’s called “capping” a bet. Other players would “pinch” a bet: take away chips before play ends so as not to lose as much money.
“Most of the charges are like that," O'Brien said.
Neither the casino nor prosecutors says they want everyone who cheats to be charged with a felony.
O’Brien said casino workers warn alleged cheaters, and give them a chance to return and play fairly. But for the ten indicted in Columbus, surveillance footage shows them continuing to try to beat the games.
“And all these people upon confrontation many of them admitted they were cheating and kind of said, ‘so what,' O'Brien said. "And so at least they found out today what will happen if you do cheat and are caught.”
The Casino Control Commission’s enforcement director Karen Huey sayid the cost of cheating extends beyond the player trying to beat the casino.
“If you’re sitting at the blackjack table, you’re not playing the same game and receiving the same outcomes," Huey said. "Secondly, if a person comes in and steals from the casino, they’re stealing from the state of Ohio.”
Alleged cheaters face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
And Prosecutor O’Brien expects to file charges on crime more severe than cheating.
“Some of the things down the road, more likely, that we’ll focus on is money laundering, for example, for drug transactions and other kind of crimes, and large scale embezzlements.”
But so far, O’Brien said there’s been no evidence of those crimes.
Since Ohio’s casinos have been open, 60 people have been charged with crimes.