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Gaming Guru

Joe Weinert
 

Atlantic City Roundup

8 March 2004

A longtime craps player who evidently knows the game very well claims that most Atlantic City casinos are making illegal payoffs on certain bets used as tips for dealers.

Brandishing a copy of state gaming regulations, William Gumper, a retired New York City police officer from Toms River, N.J., told the Casino Control Commission that place bets on 4 or 10 are supposed pay off 9:5. That means a winning dollar bet, which most casinos allow gamblers to make as a side bet used for dealer tips, should pay $1.80, or $2 rounded up.

Most other casinos are paying only 1:1 on winning wagers, Gumper said. The dealers, Gumper charged, are being cheated by their employers.

This is a scandal so big it threatens to destroy public confidence in the integrity of the casinos,¡¨ Gumper told commissioners.

Gumper singled out Caesars for the heaviest criticism, saying managers were arrogant and dismissive when he told them of their erroneous payouts. Only Bally's, ironically also owned by Caesars Entertainment, properly paid out $2 on winning dollar place bets on 4 or 10, he said.

We are currently reviewing our policies in this matter,¡¨ Caesars Entertainment spokesman Brian Cahill said.

Casino Control Commission Chair Linda Kassekert assured Gumper that regulators would investigate.

In craps, a place bet involves wagering that the shooter will roll a certain number before he rolls a seven. By law, winning wagers on 4 or 10 must pay out at least 9:5 ($1.80 on a dollar bet); 5 or 9 must pay out at least 7:5 ($1.40); and 6 or 8 must pay out at least 7:6 ($1.17).

Some casinos said they do not accept dollar place bets because the payouts are a hassle.

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The new Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa paid its first regulatory fines, some eight months after it opened. Both incidents involved errors in its table-games operations.

It paid $10,000 for acceding to a high-rollers complaints that he lost money after being allowed to exceed the table limit at $15,000-a-hand blackjack. When the gambler complained after losing, Borgata refunded him $15,000. The incident occurred a month after Borgata opened last summer.

The next month, Borgata allowed $16,000 in cash to pile up on a baccarat table after the drop box became too full to accept any more currency. When an emergency drop box did not arrive in time, Borgata allowed gamblers to continue buying chips. The casino paid $20,000 for that violation.

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The $1.1 billion Borgata made the cut in Forbes magazine¡¦s list of the 10 best casinos in the world. Bellagio was the only other U.S. casino on the list.

The casino's aim was to bring a little bit of Las Vegas to the East Coast, and it has succeeded. The casino has already announced plans to expand, and celebrities such as Howard Stern and David Schwimmer have been spotted there,¡¨ Forbes said in justifying Borgata¡¦s placement on the list.

The other casinos on Forbes¡¦ list: St. James Club, Antigua; Atlantis, Bahamas; Clermont Club, London; Casino Baden-Baden, Germany; Mandarin Oriental, Macau; Casino de Monte Carlo, Monaco; Casino Metropol, Moscow; and Sun City, South Africa.

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The Oct. 30 collapse of a garage under construction at Tropicana Casino and Resort has added millions of dollars to the cost of the integrated expansion.

Aztar Corp. said in its annual report that the $245 million scheduled cost will increase by $15 million to $20 million due to an increase in tenant allowances and ¡§incremental project costs resulting from construction delays.¡¨

The hotel, retail and parking complex, originally expected to open this month, is now scheduled to open in September.

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Reflecting the rapid expansion of casino gambling, the Casino Career Institute at Atlantic Cape Community College in Atlantic City will hold a Global Gaming Career Day to hear about gaming career opportunities around the world.

The event is free but participants must register by March 12 by calling (609) 343-4853.

(Joe Weinert covers the gaming industry for The Press of Atlantic City. He can be reached at jweinert@pressofac.com.)