$1.2M Casino Scam Gets 2 Into Nevada's Famous 'Black Book'

Anthony Grant Granito, James Russell Cooper banned from state casinos after ripping off Bellagio
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2018 1:42 PM CST
They Ripped Off the Bellagio. Now They're in the 'Black Book'
In this Aug. 14, 2015, file photo, performers appear in front of the Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/John Locher, file)

Thirty-two people appear in Nevada's "black book"—the Gaming Control Board's list of personae non gratae in the state's casinos. Anthony Grant Granito and James Russell Cooper just became Nos. 33 and 34, thanks to their role in scamming the Bellagio out of $1.2 million or so at the craps table, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Granito, Cooper, and two other men—Jeffrey Martin and Mark Branco—were convicted in 2016 of theft and cheating in gambling for a nearly two-year scheme in which they placed something called a "hop bet" at the craps table Branco ran at the Bellagio. All four men ended up being sentenced to prison (Branco is still behind bars; the other four are now on probation), and Cooper ended up cooperating and telling the grand jury exactly how the foursome pulled off the cheat, which ran from August 2012 to July 2014.

How it worked: Branco, said to be the mastermind, and Cooper, also a craps dealer, would be working the same table when Granito and Martin would wander over and mumble a hop bet, what Casino News Daily describes as "a risky oral proposition in which players wagered that a specific number would fall next." Branco and Cooper would pretend that whatever was mumbled was what came up on the thrown dice. The problem: There was no designated spot at the Bellagio craps table for such bets. The men, who would also purposely wager and lose thousands of dollars on fair bets to make the scheme look more legit, were busted when another craps dealer became suspicious and made a report. The casino itself had already begun wondering about the men's streak, which had 452 billion-to-one odds. (The gambling "nerd" with the winning algorithm that reportedly netted him a billion dollars.)

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