πŸ€‘ Casino’s attempt to collect a debt exposes Vegas shill game

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Casinos have worked to lure wealthy Chinese gamblers to baccarat tables. Sun, 52, over the bad debts, attorneys for the two women struck back with a on casino records, according to six industry veterans with experience.


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Little effort was made to conceal the shill arrangements, former employees said. Hawaiian Gardens admitted allowing players to gamble anonymously, even after gamblers had attracted suspicion at the casino. Previously, lawyers Setness and Rosenberg declined to say whether they had heard of Wong. The assistant invited Reuters to discuss the matter with Wong in person in Las Vegas, declining to provide more detail over the phone. He often brought high-stakes players who would gamble millions of dollars over the course of a visit, said two former casino employees with direct involvement in his transactions. However, even a scenario in which a company employee was involved still does not void the debt. Reuters was unable to reach Wong or his wife in trips to homes he owned in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Vices of the strip β€” prostitution, fights, drug possession β€” are adjudicated in this court. His neighbors said Wong could often be seen in a golf cart shuttling an ever-changing group of guests between his homes. They were local housekeepers, recruited with the cooperation of Sands personnel to take out millions of dollars in credit in their names and sit near the players as they gambled with the borrowed chips. Casinos do check if the player has outstanding gambling debts at other establishments. Their attorneys would not say how they became involved in the case or who was paying their fees. This is where the books often get settled on casino debt-fueled gambling. But the Chinese revenue stream comes with a catch: Most of these games are played on credit, because the sums are so large. In court filings, prosecutors said they now intend to pursue the charges through a grand jury, rather than before a judge. Casino marketing employees could have an incentive to skirt the rules, Rosenberg said in an interview, since they are paid based partly on how much customers play. Shill Game. Starting in , the attorneys said in court filings, a host at the Palazzo β€” named only as David in court records β€” told Sun she could make money by fronting for other players. The women never made payments themselves, and the Venetian and Palazzo never asked, they said. If the gamblers pay the casino back in full, or negotiate a settlement with the casino, charges are usually dropped, said Thomas Pitaro, a Las Vegas attorney who defends clients accused of bad casino debts. Often, prosecutors in the state pivot to a grand jury if preliminary hearings before a judge show proving their case will be harder than expected. Write to Joel Schectman at joel. Junkets are independent agents who bring players to the casino in exchange for a percentage of what the gamblers spend. The lawyers describe the women as the bottom rung of a network of hosts and handlers who court wealthy gamblers from China and sometimes help them play anonymously. Gamblers use shills to gain additional credit lines after bad losing streaks, or because they wish to avoid disclosing the source of funds on casino records, according to six industry veterans with experience catering to high-stakes Chinese players. The wealthy players apparently repaid those debts once home in China, the defense attorneys said. Ye Gon is currently in a U. The effort paid off. Wong often brought women to the casino to act as shills on behalf of other high-stakes players, two former employees said. Reuters was unable to locate Wang. Toggle navigation Shill Game. One man in the waiting room of the Bad Check Unit, a former city worker, said he was there to repay a casino debt of a few hundred dollars he forgot he owed after moving to California. Without the threat of criminal charges, the casino industry has long argued, scofflaws wouldn't pay up. But in arguing that their clients were shills, Reese said, the defense attorneys were essentially admitting the women were part of a much larger scheme. Video: Shills, High Rollers and Vegas. They represented Wong, too, they said. They were used by the organization with the encouragement of the casino staff to keep deeply indebted gamblers coming back to the table. Wong was well known in the Venetian and Palazzo baccarat salons. The Supreme Court and federal law have generally prohibited states from jailing people over unpaid debts. After signing for the credit, the women would sit at a nearby table as the players gambled, sometimes passing them chips. But when the Sands asked prosecutors to press criminal charges against Xiufei Yang, 59, and Meie Sun, 52, over the bad debts, attorneys for the two women struck back with a surprising allegation. Unlike the crowded main betting floors at the Venetian and Palazzo, the high stakes rooms are intimate, often seating one or two tables of players. But a day after reporters agreed to meet with Wong in Las Vegas, Setness and Rosenberg asked Reuters to stop contacting the man. The attorneys filed motions that sought to turn the tables on the casinos. Follow Reuters Investigates. In the Sands case, exactly how the two women each ended up owing more than a million dollars came under question after prosecutors brought the criminal charges in separate cases last year.

In recent years, casinos have lured Chinese high-rollers to the strip. The practice bad casino experiences easy to spot, they said, because the women would be sitting at a vacant nearby table without playing.

Chinese regulators have bad casino experiences currency controls as part of a crackdown on corruption and capital flight in recent years.

After the defense attorneys raised the counter-allegations, Clark County prosecutors dropped the charges against Sun and Yang this spring bad casino experiences preliminary hearings in Las Vegas Justice Court. Whatever the motive that led a player to take out a loan to gamble and then not repay the casino, their judgment day comes here, in a starkly lit room.

To prepare for trial, the attorneys subpoenaed casino surveillance footage of the women in the betting rooms, and the names and credit files of a score of high-rollers.

The shills, who signed for the credit, would sit near the bad casino experiences. The criminal read article filed against each woman was just two pages, charging them for defrauding bad casino experiences Sands.

That debt led him back to the Las Vegas Bad Check Unit, where he had one last chance to clear his hand. Typically, a casino link run a credit check the first time a customer seeks a loan. Otherwise, they face potential jail time.

Other Reuters investigations and long-form narratives.

The attorneys also declined to make the women available for interviews or provide documentation to confirm their occupations and backgrounds, but said they are still in the United States. The women continued the arrangement for years, obtaining millions of dollars in chips for high-stakes baccarat players such as one identified by their attorneys as WeiDang Wang. Gregory Smith, an attorney for Ye Gon, said his client was running a legitimate pharmaceutical company and was not a narcotrafficker. Reuters could not reach the women for comment. The prosecution marked a rupture of years-long relationships between the shills and the casino company, the defense contends. Unlike in years past, those debts went unpaid. Defaulting on a casino debt became the equivalent of a issuing a bad check, Pitaro said. Sands spokesman Reese declined to comment on what, if anything, the casino knew of the relationship between Wong and the housekeepers. In Nevada, failing to pay a gambling debt is a felony criminal offense comparable to passing a bad check. As a former assistant U. Employees of the casino told her, in substance, that they had no expectation she would be responsible for those debts. Such concern has triggered a crackdown and record penalties against casinos for alleged violations of anti-money laundering rules. In February , Yang signed for credit for a player named Quanlong Wang; she sat nearby as he played with the borrowed chips. Casino gambling credit is loosely regulated in Nevada, industry veterans say. Filed Sept. Reese said it was possible some players who overextended their credit lines entered a private arrangement with the women to borrow money on their behalf. Video: Chinese high-rollers play 'shill' game in Vegas. But in a bid to help its paramount industry, the Nevada state legislature passed a law in that made casino markers β€” a kind of gambling IOU signed by players β€” legally enforceable like a bounced check. In interviews, Las Vegas industry executives, casino floor employees and independent agents said the use of shills is a frequent practice at some casinos catering to high-stakes Chinese players. More recently, federal authorities have been scrutinizing practices at U. Debtors arrive after the casinos have turned their debts over to prosecutors, who have issued arrest warrants. In a gated community 10 miles away from the Las Vegas-strip, Wong owns a handful of houses. Defense attorneys say the women, Chinese citizens living in the United States, made their living working as housekeepers and assisting high-rolling Chinese gamblers in their visits to casinos. Las Vegas Justice Court sits two miles from the cacophony of the Vegas strip, in a sparsely developed area of downtown dotted with bail bond shops. But that justification may be just the recommendation of hosts or an outside junket operator who has a relationship with the player. Reuters was unable to reach Wang at addresses listed for him in Las Vegas.