Hit and Run: Sands Casino Triggers High Roller Baccarat Scandal, PokerStars Sponsors GPL, One Drop Invitational at 35 Entries and Counting

Alex Weldon : September 30th, 2016


Sands legal action brings shady practices to light. PokerStars becomes exclusive sponsor of GPL. Andrew Barber and Bryan Paris debate politics on the PTP Podcast. And more.

Poker Media No Longer the Only Shills in Gambling

The Sands Casino is attempting to collect on a multi-million dollar debt incurred by two women at high-stakes baccarat. In doing so, it has inadvertently blown the lid off an illegal system being employed by the Sands itself, and probably by other establishments, to court ultra-rich Chinese gamblers who would like to avoid leaving a paper trail, without the need to carry large sums of physical currency with them on their trip.

Macau is usually the destination of choice for Chinese high-rollers, but Las Vegas has been trying to court them as well, resulting in a doubling of revenues from baccarat – their game of choice, and one of only a few permitted in Macau. However, US anti-money laundering laws make it difficult to move money back and forth. Las Vegas casinos have therefore been willing to extend lines of credit, but in order to avoid leaving an official record of their trip, it has apparently become standard practice to recruit locals as shills; the shills sign the casino markers (loan contracts) and sit with the actual gamblers at the table, but it is the latter who do the actual wagering.

The defendants in the Sands case claim that this was the arrangement they had in place, that they’re simply local housekeepers and the debt is not theirs, despite their signatures on the markers. Representatives for Sands have been cagey in response, asserting that this isn’t the case, but that they’ll look into it and take appropriate action against any employees involved, but that even if it is the case, the debt is still valid.

It’ll be an interesting to see what comes of this; like much of what goes on in Vegas, it seems patently insane to an outsider. Allowing someone from a foreign country where gambling debts are unenforceable to borrow huge sums of money to gamble with, in violation of the law, in the name of someone else entirely, who clearly does not have the means to make good on the debt if the actual borrower skips town… what could possibly go wrong? Well, this, apparently.

Quick Hitters

- After its summer Cube heads-up matches failed to draw viewers, many have begun to write the Global Poker League off as a failed experiment. That may prove to be a premature assessment, as PokerStars has signed on as the league’s exclusive poker sponsor. That cash infusion should see the league through to a second season, at least, and cross-promotion with the world’s largest online poker site may be just what the GPL needs to attract the attention of casual poker fans.

- Meanwhile, Poker Central is beginning to get some traction as well. Poker Central has close connections with the GPL, and its current lineup of pro representatives uncoincidentally overlaps heavily with both Team PokerStars and the GPL roster.

- Matt Savage is, in this writer’s opinion, the most deserving of this year’s WSOP Hall of Fame candidates, but also probably unlikely to get the nod. PokerNews posted a nice biography of / interview with him today, penned by Marty Derbyshire.

- 35 players are confirmed for the invitational Monte Carlo Big One for One Drop. More may yet join, plus there will be multi-stage satellites to the event starting at a comparatively “affordable” €10,000. It may therefore prove to be the biggest Big One yet, albeit one devoid of star power due to the decision to exclude professional players this time around.

- If you’re not completely burnt out on US politics already, please do check out the latest PTP Podcast, special US Election Debate Edition, in which my cohost Andrew Barber takes on online tournament wizard and Trump-supporter Bryan Paris. You can listen to the full 2+ hour debate, or read my detailed synopsis of the questions and responses, or both, if you have a lot of time on your hands.

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