Ex-Casino Dealer Listed in Black Book, GVC License Top Thursday’s Nevada Gaming Commission Meeting

Posted on: May 22, 2019, 06:59h. 

Last updated on: May 22, 2019, 06:59h.

The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider many hot issues on Thursday ranging from former Bellagio dealer turned convict Mark M. Branco getting forever banned from state casinos to GVC Holdings being considered for sportsbook approval.

Ex-casino dealer Mark M. Branco could be forbidden from ever entering his former workplace, the Bellagio, and other Nevada gaming venues. (Image: WPTV)

If the commission agrees, Branco, 46, will be added to the list of those who are prevented from entering gaming venues in Nevada. Officially called the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s Excluded Person List, it is commonly referred to as a “black book” and now has 35 names.

Branco was released from state prison last May after serving over two years for his key role in a clever illicit craps scheme at the Bellagio. It profited him and his cohorts $1.2 million.

Between 2012 and 2014, Branco allegedly led the illegal operation. He was assisted by James Russell Cooper, Anthony Grant Granito and Jeffrey Martin, who was Branco’s brother-in law.

Each of the three accomplices are already included on the casino not welcome list. They were sentenced to prison, like Branco, with his charges being theft and cheating at gambling, both felonies.

He is now confined to his residence. Branco remains under state supervision.

During a Clark County District Court hearing, Branco had asked Judge Valerie Adair for probation instead of serving time in prison. But the judge not only ordered incarceration, he was also required to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution.

Casino officials discovered the devious plan in 2014 when reviewing unlikely winnings. The Nevada Gaming Control Board says surveillance video shows that the quartet overcame 452 billion-to-1 odds many times.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Martin and two accomplices would mumble what sounded like “hop bet” as the shooter threw the dice. Hop bets — which are wagers gamblers make on the specific outcome of the numbers the dice turn up — weren’t on the Bellagio felt when the gang carried out their scheme.

GVC Holdings Operates Overseas

The commission will also consider granting a state license to GVC Holdings Plc. It is an operator of sportsbooks located in Germany and the United Kingdom.

The company is considered controversial, especially since it was involved in online gaming in Turkey. It got the Turkish operation in March 2018 upon acquiring Ladbrokes Coral Group.

In November, GVC ceased the operation in Turkey. Last year, GVC rejected claims that the structure of its takeover of Ladbrokes enabled it to “swindle” hundreds of millions from pension funds invested in its new acquisition.

GVC has the bwin, Coral, Crystalbet, Eurobet, Ladbrokes, Neds International and Sportingbet brands. These are found in foreign countries.

In 2018, the company started a joint venture with MGM Resorts to develop Roar Digital, a sports wagering initiative, according to the Review-Journal. Also, GVC and MGM work together at the Borgata venue in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In an apparent effort to gain goodwill, GVC Holdings CEO Kenny Alexander recently called for a complete ban — except for horse racing — on betting ads during televised sports broadcasts in the UK. That move would go far further than current regulatory changes that are going into effect this year — no gambling ads during soccer matches that take place before 9 pm starting with the next English Premier League season.

Alexander said his new stance came after he had first-hand contact with people struggling with problem gambling.

But he faces new concerns from company shareholders after it was revealed that Alexander was paid £19.1 million approximately (US$24.2 million) last year, The Guardian reported this month. Shareholders were also critical of last year’s top executive salaries.

Cohen New Commissioner

Among those present for Thursday’s five-member commission meeting is likely to be Steven Cohen. The Las Vegas attorney was named to the commission on Friday by Gov. Steve Sisolak and fills a vacant seat.