North Carolina’s Christian Lusardi has plead guilty to purchasing more than 3.6 million in tournament chips that he used during a $2 million guaranteed tournament at the Borgata Winter Poker Open in January of 2014 that left
Lusardi was suspected after it was discovered he had flushed some of the chips down the toilet of his Harrah Resorts hotel room after he suspected that the counterfeit chips had been discovered at the tournament. The chips clogged the pipes as other guests began complaining of water dripping into their rooms.
As part of the plea deal, Lusardi will serve 5 years in prison for trademark counterfeiting and criminal mischief. He will also be required to pay $463.540 to the Borgata Hotel and Casino for lost revenue and $9,455 in damages to Harrah Resorts Hotel for infrastructure updates.
Luke Edwards, a participant in the tournament, was among the first to tweet a picture of the bogus chips.
Lusardi purchased the counterfeit chips online from a Chinese manufacturer, and then placed a Borgata logo on the chips. This was not the first time he had been charged with counterfeiting. He has also been serving a separate 5-year term related to the counterfeiting of DVDs. His house was also raided in a 2008 bust for illegal gambling.
A Background of the Borgata Open Counterfeit Chip Scandal
The tournament was held in the middle of January 2014 as part of the 2014 Borgata Winter Poker Open. The incident happened during a $560 buy-in tournament called the Big Stack No Limit Hold’em event, which guaranteed $2 million in prizes.
Despite using counterfeit chips at the table, Lusardi was knocked out of the tournament before being discovered, although he did manage to cash for $6,814. A total of 27 players remained in the tournament at the time the tournament was suspended, which was ultimately canceled.
Once the scheme was investigated, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Director was tasked with an attempt at fairly reimbursing players
It was a difficult situation for all involved, but the DGE attempted to reimburse the players who were impacted by the counterfeit chips. It was believed that Lusardi introduced more than 1 million in counterfeit chips.
Of the 4,800 players that entered the Borgata Winter Open event, 2,143 were reimbursed an entry fee totaling $560. These were players that played during Day 1C and also players from Day 1A and 1B that advanced to Day 2. The 27 players that were still in the tournament were each paid $19,323, regardless of chip counts. Many of these players were disappointed in the ruling and attempted to file a lawsuit but were declined by a New Jersey home-court ruling.