Marina Bay Sands Cheating Syndicate Had ‘Secret Formula’ to Beat Baccarat

Posted on: October 4, 2023, 09:38h. 

Last updated on: October 4, 2023, 08:50h.

A Malaysian man pleaded guilty in a Singapore courtroom Tuesday to being a “marksman” in a cheating syndicate that bilked the Marina Bay Sands out of S$433,730 (US$315k). They used hidden mobile devices to relay card values to accomplices and appear to have developed a secret system to beat baccarat.

Marina Bay Sands, cheating, Tan Kian Yi, baccarat
Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands was targeted by a group that appears to have found a way to gain an edge playing baccarat, albeit with the help of recording devices and an Excel spreadsheet. (Image: STB)

Tan Kian Yi, 35, was part of a team that hit the Sands casino floor in December 2022, using mobile phones to transmit images of the value of playing cards to accomplices, The Straits Times reports.

In the scheme, a female syndicate member, known as “the Sorcerer,” would play 7 Up baccarat while wearing a concealed earphone attached to her mobile device, according to court documents seen by the Times. She would then relay the information about the cards to Tan and other “marksmen,” who would advise the Sorcerer on how to bet after consulting an Excel spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet contained a formula that apparently helped players gain an edge in the game, although the nature of the system wasn’t revealed in court documents.

Others Charged

Two other members of the gang, Hung Jung-Hao, 27, who is Taiwanese, and Chai Hee Keong, 46, who is Malaysian, have also been charged in the case.

Three others, Wang Yu, 22, Hung Yu-Wen, 24, and Chou Yu-Lun, 26, are also accused of being part of the syndicate. But it’s unclear whether they have been charged.

Hao was arrested on Dec. 24, 2022, after security cameras caught the gang’s suspicious behavior on their previous visit. Catching wind of his arrest, his associates fled to Malaysia, where they were later detained and returned to Singapore. In their haste to escape, they left behind $790K in casino chips in their hotel rooms at the Sands.

Secret Formula

Tan told authorities he met Wang and Hung, a couple, at a casino in the Philippines in August 2022. Hung later told Tan she had a system to help them win at Baccarat. Tan said all he knew was that the system had been developed by someone called “Kelvin.”

Tan’s lawyers argued that there was no evidence the system involved fraud or cheating; as such, it was “impossible to determine whether the effect of the formula would have been to change the odds of a game beyond that envisaged by the casino” they argued.

Under Singapore’s Casino Control Act, players caught using a device to count or record cards while gaming in a casino can face up to seven years in prison, a fine of up to S$150K or both.