Nevada Adds Mississippi Illusionist to Black Book of Banned Casino Players

Posted on: December 21, 2023, 05:13h. 

Last updated on: December 26, 2023, 11:42h.

The Nevada Gaming Commission unanimously voted on Thursday to add the 36th name to its List of Excluded Persons. That’s the infamous “black book” banning people for life from all casinos in the Silver State.

Shaun Benward
Shaun Benward has performed magic in Mississippi under the pseudonym Shaun Mistery. The Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday assured that he will vanish from all casinos in the Silver State. (Image: Instagram/mistery228228)

Shaun Joseph Benward, a 36-year-old native of Ocean Springs, Miss., is an illusionist who allegedly uses his knowledge of distraction to scam casinos. He was nominated for the dishonor in September.

Benward was previously convicted of cheating at roulette in several states and has been removed from 17 Nevada casinos. Though he was notified of the vote, he didn’t attend Thursday’s Commission meeting.

Benward poses with the famous Julius Caesar statue inside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, one of many photo ops that will no longer be available to him. (Image: Instagram/mistery228228)

Michael Somps, Senior Deputy Attorney General in the Gaming Division of the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, testified before the Commission in September that Benward has cheated casinos out of tens of thousands of dollars by perpetrating a single scam — an allegation backed up by multiple news reports.

Benward’s MO is to work with an accomplice to distract roulette dealers. He wins their confidence through conversation, then places his bet late in a game.

When the ball lands, Benward tries convincing his dealer that he mistakenly placed his chips on the wrong number. His accomplice backs up the story.

Often, a flustered dealer will allow the bet to be played. Often, however, Benward is caught.

This is why his name appears on exclusion lists in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Missouri, and Michigan, and why he has cheating arrests or convictions in Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, and Rhode Island.

Black book inclusion requires only one conviction of violating laws governing gaming or moral turpitude, or of violating a court order to stay out of casinos, or of having a notorious or unsavory reputation.

Benward satisfied all four criteria.