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Howard Stutz

Welcome to the club: Slot cheat joins state's Black Book

19 September 2008

NEVADA -- A convicted slot machine cheat became the 36th name on the state's List of Excluded Persons, commonly known as the Black Book, and the first new member since 2004.

The Nevada Gaming Commission took about 15 minutes Thursday to confirm the nomination of William Cushing to the Black Book, legally barring him from entering a licensed Nevada casino. Cushing, who was indicted by a Clark County grand jury in 2007 for slot machine cheating, did not appear in his defense even though the state attorney general's office said he was notified of the hearing.

Commissioners made no comments about the nomination following a 10-minute presentation by Chief Deputy Attorney General Michael Somps. Most of the discussion centered on reciting the Nevada Revised Statues covering the Black Book.

Cushing spent time in federal prison in the 1980s for gambling-related cheating convictions against several Strip casinos. He was also convicted of cheating violations in Clark County in the 1990s.

Somps said the convicted slot machine cheat met three criteria under Nevada law for inclusion on the list, including felony convictions and having a notorious reputation. Somps made a similar presentation in May when the Gaming Control Board nominated Cushing for inclusion.

Two of Cushing's associates, who were convicted with him in federal court in 1985, are Black Book members John and Sandra Vaccaro.

Commission Chairman Pete Bernhard, speaking for the five-member panel, said Cushing met the qualifications for nomination. The board voted unanimously for inclusion.

Cushing's inclusion was the first since 2004, when two other convicted slot machine cheats were added to the list.

The Black Book now contains 36 names that date back to the 1960s and 1970s, when organized crime controlled Nevada's casino industry. The only way a person can be removed from the list is by dying.

The law was set up to prohibit people with felony convictions against the gaming industry from entering a casino. It's considered a gross misdemeanor if someone from the List of Excluded Persons enters a gaming establishment. Casino executives can also face disciplinary action from Nevada gaming regulators if they knowingly allow a member of the Black Book to enter the property.