The 2016 Global Gaming Expo (G2E) has come and gone, and one of the most interesting nuggets came from a non-descript session from the event. We've long known that casinos can be a place that criminals target, but what we learned is just how various the forms can be.
There were all sorts of eye-opening stories coming out of G2E as experts shed some light on how scammers try to get one over on the system. The conversation was overseen by James Taylor, who is the deputy chief of special investigations at the Nevada Gaming Control Board, so needless to say he has lots of stories to tell. The most stunning came when he spoke of Zhenli Ye Gon, who was busted running quite the unique operation.
Ye Gon was a high roller that lived at the Venetian in Las Vegas, but at the same time he also had a house in Mexico City, which was raided. The Drug Enforcement Administration, along with police in Mexico, found over $200 million lined in the walls of that house. It was revealed that Ye Gon had allegedly been working with a drug cartel in Mexico, providing supplies to make meth. Also, Ye Gon would use some of the drug profits for laundering through the casinos. The Control Board eventually went after the Las Vegas Sands for not filing a suspicious activity incident against Ye Gon, which earned them a fine of $2 million. They should have been more vigilant but they possibly didn't want to boot a customer that was generating good income for them.
While that was on the elaborate end of the spectrum, Taylor highlighted a number of other crimes that were far simpler. For example, there was one that involved a person who would distract players that were preparing to collect their money from ticket-in, ticket-out machines. One person would distract the player and then grab their ticket with one hand behind his back.
There was also a player whose home was raided and authorities found playing cards marked with ink that could only be seen by someone wearing special contact lenses or glasses. It's unclear what his next steps were going to be but clearly there was some kind of plan in place to run a scam. And there was even an account of a player who attempted to climb through a casino cage window while the security guard was standing right next to him. The security guard was clueless to the crime even though he was right there.
Of course, all of these people will be blacklisted on the List of Excluded Persons, but the idea is to highlight just how varying the crimes can be. From laundering drug money to blatant theft, casinos tend to attract and host a lot more characters than the naked eye can see. The goal was for Taylor to open up the discussion about these types of crimes so that other casinos can be aware and prevent these situations from happening in the future.