The two men participated in a cheating scheme that involved placing high-risk phantom bets at Bellagio’s craps tables
Two men have been added to Nevada’s “black book” of banned casino players after scamming Bellagio of nearly $1.2 million by placing the so-called hop bet in a series of craps games, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
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Anthony Grant Granito and James Russell Cooper will no longer be able to play at any of the state’s casinos after their names have been placed on the list of banned gamblers maintained by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Granito and Cooper were part of a group of four men who jointly carried out a sophisticated scheme to cheat the glitzy Strip casino. The scam took place between August 2012 and July 2014 and also involved Jeffrey Martin and Mark Branco. Branco and Cooper were craps dealers at the Bellagio at the time.
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According to court papers, it was Branco who led the group of four and concocted the scheme. The scam was discovered and reported by another craps dealer who noticed suspicious behavior and reported it to casino officials.
The scheme involved Branco and Cooper working at the same table. When a shooter tossed the dice, Martin or Granito had to mumble something that very much sounded like a hop bet (a risky oral proposition in which players wagered that a specific number would fall next). One of the dealers participating in the scam would pay out as if Martin or Granito had wagered correctly on whatever came up next.
It is important to note that at the time, the felt on the craps tables at the targeted casino had no designated spot for hop bets. To avoid attention and prevent their wrongdoing from being discovered, the two players would lose thousands of dollars on actual bets they placed. However, they would always walk away with a profit thanks to the phantom bets.
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All four participants in the fraudulent scheme were charged with theft and cheating at gambling and sentenced to prison by the Clark County District Court in 2016. As mentioned above, Granito and Cooper have recently been placed on the list of people banned from gambling at Nevada’s casinos.
How Was the Scam Discovered?
As mentioned earlier, it was believed that Branco was the mastermind behind the fraudulent plan. The group of four accomplices carried out with the scam for two years between August 2012 and July 2014.
A third craps dealer at the Bellagio reported suspicious activity to the casino’s management. Casino authorities themselves noticed a winning streak of wagers they said defied 452-billion-to-1 odds. According to a statistician employed by MGM Resorts International, Bellagio’s parent company:
Granito’s average bet was $4,400. He played 1,624 rounds and wagered $7.1 million. He would have been expected to lose $459,539. Instead, he won $498,500.
Martin wagered $5.1 million over 2,295 rounds. Bellagio should have expected to come away with $252,490 of his money. Instead, he won $587,900.
Overall, they would have been expected to lose $712,029…but they won a total of $1,086,400.
Casino officials examined every roll of the dice visible on surveillance while Branco and Cooper were at the tables to find enough evidence about their wrongdoing. Cooper eventually cooperated with authorities, revealing the scam’s details.
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