Craps Scammers Banned From Sin City Casinos

Tisha Walden | 20 Nov 2018

Craps ScammersJames Russell Cooper and Anthony Grant Granito are free to come and go as they please, just not to any of Nevada’s casinos. The pair were recently added to the state’s black book for sanctioned and banned players after they were discovered scamming the famous Bellagio out of nearly $1.2 million by playing so-called hip-hop bets in a series of Craps games.

Nevada’s Gaming Control board keeps a meticulous list of all players found guilty of serious offenses, and the act of cheating and placing phantom bets is the fastest route towards being blacklisted. The pair were part of a group of four men, also including Jeffrey Martin and Mark Branco. At the time of the dubious dealings, Branco and Cooper were Craps dealers in the employment of the Las Vegas Strip’s Bellagio Casino.

Local Dealer The Mastermind

According to reports, it was actually Branco who was the mastermind behind the dodgy scheme. A fellow Craps dealer had noticed suspicious behaviour and proceeded to alert the Bellagio’s management of the goings-on.

The foursome’s dodgy plans succeeded as a result of Branco and Cooper having worked at the same table. Granito and Martin posed as players at the table, and were heard to be mumbling something akin to a so-called hop-bet. Hop-bets are very risky bets placed by players willing to go all in on the off chance of an accurate guess as to which specific number would come up next on the table.

What alerted the fellow dealer to the fact that all was not above board, was that at the time, no hop-bets were being offered by the casino.

Cooper Sells Out The MO

The foursome went to great lengths so as to not draw the casino’s attention, with the two poser-players regularly losing large sums of cash. But at the end of each evening, they would always walk away in the money, thanks to the phantom bets placed at the Craps table.

The scheme took place between 2012 and 2014, and the foursome were sentenced to jail-time on the charges of theft and cheating by the Clark County District Court in 2016.

After an in-depth investigation by the casino’s management, they eventually gathered enough on-camera evidence to lay charges. It was Cooper who eventually cracked under the pressure of having been caught out, and spilled the beans as to exactly how the scam had been pulled off.