Two gamblers were found guilty of participating in a scam that earned them $7,000 in winnings at the SkyCity Casino in Hamilton, New Zealand. The two players colluded with a dealer using a twist on a classic scheme that allowed them to place their bets after they already knew what the results of each spin on a roulette wheel would be.
The scam began when Xiao Dong Lu approached roulette dealer Bo Du. Lu approached Du and made an agreement that Du would allow Lu – or her accomplice, Zhou Zhao – to cheat if they were in the casino and sat down at her game.
In a sense, the cheating method they came up with was as old as the game of roulette. It’s known as past posting: putting bets down later than players are normally allowed to do so. It’s a scam that doesn’t require the dealer’s help, normally, but one that most experienced dealers and croupiers will instantly spot and stop in its tracks. That means it’s certainly easier to pull off if you know the dealer will be looking the other way.
The rapid roulette game at SkyCity was further protected against such scams. The game is partially electronic, as while players are still betting on the results of a real roulette wheel, they must make their bets on an electronic terminal. This means that bets are cut off after a certain point by the machines themselves, making it impossible to slip bets in at the last minute.
But the three schemers found a way around this restriction. In order to ensure that Lu and Zhao could place bets late, Du released the ball earlier than she was supposed to. That meant that the ball could land in a pocket much earlier than the machines expected – often earlier than the time at which bets were cut off.
Despite the early success of the scam, New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs was soon brought in to investigate after the casino noticed some irregularities in how the game was paying out. It didn’t take long for them to figure out what was going on. The dealer, Du, was sentenced in January to nine months of home detention and was forced to pay $20,000 in reparations to the casino. Lu and Zhao will have their sentencing hearing in July.
“These convictions show that if you try and cheat in a casino in New Zealand, you will be caught,” said Rob Abbott, Internal Affairs’ casino compliance manager. “The casinos and the department have the systems in place…to detect and deal with cheating by casino patrons and staff.”