A baccarat player and a dealer in Maryland cooked up a plan to rig the game and collected more than $1 million from two Maryland casinos. The duo had a little help from the other players at the baccarat table, but they were all busted.
The scheme created by the two men was so perfectly thought off that the casino officials couldn’t figure out how it was all done. The two men were sentenced to prison time and ordered to pay back $1 million in restitution each.
- Ming Zhang and Chenguang Ni cheated two Maryland casinos for over $1 million
- One of the casinos noticed the shady business and reported it to the FBI
- The men were sentenced to prison time and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution
The Master Plan
According to the FBI, Ming Zhang, a dealer who worked in two casinos in Maryland, confessed that Chenguang Ni approached him in 2017 with a plan to grab massive winnings at a baccarat table. Zhang would tip off Ni when and in which casino he would work. Ni’s plan was recruiting baccarat players before the game started and told them to follow his lead.
A Breakdown of the Scheme
- As Zhang would shuffle the decks, he would leave a series of cards unshuffled, as they were displayed on the table
- Ni would take a photo of the displayed cards, go to the bathroom and review them before returning to play
- Meanwhile, the other recruited players would play for smaller bets, so that the gameplay continued
- Once the unshuffled cards would appear, the recruited players would raise their bets
They used this plan once before in a casino where Zhang worked, and Ni won $200,000. However, the casino officials at MGM National Harbor, where the two men managed to steal more than $850,000, harbored suspicions about the win. They neatly reported their suspicions to the authorities.
The officials explained to the FBI agents that, statistically speaking, winning 14 consecutive times in baccarat, 18 out of 21 hands, was nearly impossible. That’s how they discovered that there was a scam, but they couldn’t find out how they did it.
The FBI agents started analyzing video surveillance and questioning the staff, Zhang included. After initially denying any involvement, Zhang later admitted his role in the entire scheme.
Obtaining Zhang’s testimony and using the footage from the casino, the FBI arrested the duo for conspiracy to transport stolen funds. They both agreed to plead guilty, for which they expected milder sentences. However, the judges were not as generous as the duo thought.
Ni received a 13 months jail time sentence in federal prison. He was ordered to pay back the $1 million he stole. Zhang received an even larger sentence, 18 months in jail, three years of supervised release, and $1 million in restitution.
Scheduled to report to federal prison on January 27, Zhang filed an appeal over the restitution amount and the length of the sentence on December 30. The aftermath is yet to be seen.
Online Gambling and Security
Online casinos can never experience such a heist. One of the main reasons why these types of crimes can be avoided in online gambling is the Random Number Generator (RNG).
All online casino games use an RNG nowadays, a type of program code that uses an algorithm that generates random game results. Hence, no one can tamper with the gameplay or the outcome of the game.
Also, reputable baccarat online casinos use the highest security measures, such as the latest SSL encryptions and secure firewalls. Respected regulators oversee them, authorities that make sure everything goes as smoothly and safely as possible for both players and the operator.