Remember three months ago when I brought you news of a Minnesota blackjack dealer who was charged in scamming $18,500 plus from the Mystic Lakes Casino? Actually it was three months ago to date. Anyway, the young man in question who was charged with gambling fraud and theft by swindle—two felonies in case you did not know—has finally been sentenced for being a cheating blackjack dealer.
Jacob Edwin Christensen was caught back on August 2nd for paying a player at his table $3,875 for hands he did not win. Security called the police and Christensen and the player were removed. The player, who turned out to be a friend of Christensen’s from high school, felt bad about cheating the casino, and paid back $1,825 in chips.
But Christensen has a much bigger debt to pay. His charge of theft by swindle has been dismissed as a part of a plea bargain. But he has been sentenced to three years of probation and eighty hours of community service. On top of that Christensen must pay Mystic Lake Casino $18,720—the total amount scammed: $3,875 wrongfully paid to his high school friend; more than $9,500 paid to his landlord’s daughter; and more than $5,075 also wrongly paid to a woman at his blackjack table that he simply thought was “good looking.”
Nothing more has hit the blackjack news reel about the other three accomplices. The most that has been said was that it was the friend from high school who told police that there were two other accomplices and who those accomplices were.
I doubt that Christensen will be dealing blackjack in any casino for a long time, if ever again. But it can be hoped that with his sentence he has learned that nothing comes for free and that casinos have security for a reason—it is not just for catching shady players, but for catching dishonest dealers. The blackjack world at large should be glad to have a disreputable dealer removed from the casino floor.
Unfortunately is it not uncommon in casino games, especially games such as blackjack in which cards can be tracked to some extent, for scams to happen. Typically it is a player who is trying to cheat the casino without help from the inside. But back 2008 a scam ring slipped a blackjack dealer into twenty seven different casinos to do his part in the scam by the Tran Organization.
The blackjack dealer, Mike Waseleski, was convicted this past Wednesday for his part in the blackjack casino scam, in which he helped to steal more than $1 million from twenty seven casinos from around the country. Waseleski has yet to be sentenced but he could face up to a maximum of five years in prison, $250,000 in fines and restitution payments to the victim.
But Waseleski was not operating alone. Forty other members of the Tran Organization scam have pleaded guilty, including the ringleader of the Tran Organization, Phuong Quoc Truong. Truong was been sentenced to seventy months in prison, and ordered to pay $2.8 million in fines and $5.7 million in restitution for his conspiracy to conduct a racketeering enterprise operation.
The scam would begin with a member of the Tran Organization playing blackjack at the table that Waseleski would be serving as the dealer at. The scam member would then signal to Waseleski to perform what is called a false shuffle. A false shuffle would create slugs, which are groups of unshuffled cards, in the deck. Members of the scam would then use high tech devices to track the order of the cards. With the slugs and the tracking devices, the scam member posing as a player would know the order of the cards, and then place higher wagers intended to win more money from the casino.
I like hearing that the Tran Organization is being sentenced on the harsh side. Cases such as these enforce an image that casinos and casino games like blackjack and poker are all things of ill repute. It never pays to cheat, and to see this blackjack scam ring convicted and put away and off the casino floors is good news indeed to blackjack players.