A $1.2 million scam has gotten two men permanently banned from every casino in Nevada. The scam at the craps tables at the Bellagio was busted after officials noticed Anthony Grant Granito and James Russell Cooper winning numerous times. No big deal there. But the odds on the wagers the duo made were 452 billion-to-1.

Nevada’s Black Book

Inside Help

The duo teamed up with Jeffrey Martin and Mark Branco, craps dealers at the Bellagio.

Granito and Cooper would place their bets and when the dice rolled, they made a ‘hop bet’ softly. A hop bet is the kind where the bettor tries to correctly bet on the exact number the dice will show when it stops bouncing. When the scam happened the Bellagio failed to have a specific place on the table to make hop bets. Branco was able to pay out regardless of the number on the dice.

The men would start the night be deliberately losing thousands of dollars on legitimate bets, thus making their scheme less suspicious.

Because of their con, Granito and Cooper became the 33rd and 34th persons written in to Nevada’s “black book” and are not welcome in a casino in the state.

Nevada’s Black Book

The purpose of the black book is to use it as a tool in cracking down on organized crime in Nevada’s casinos. Known cons and crooks are listed in the book and they are guilty of committing a crime the instant they step into any Nevada casino.

If a casino fails to report the person to the authorities that is also a crime. The book was begun in 1960 and still has just 36 pages. Some of the state’s most notorious have been in the book for decades.

Fear that casino crime would become uncontrollable led to the start of the book. If crime took over, Congress would get rid of the gambling industry for being more trouble than it’s worth.

“The Black Book is Nevada’s guide to the ultra-shady,” explained Nicholas Wooldridge, a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer. “Once a person’s name goes into the book, it is only taken out when that person dies.”

Freshman Class

The first group written into the black book, officially known as the List of Excluded Persons — included 11 names, most added to the list because of their mob ties:

Marshall Caifano, Las Vegas enforcer and Chicago mob member
Louis Tom Dragna, onetime Los Angeles mob boss
Carl James Civella, Kansas City, Mo., mob boss
Nicholas Civella, Kansas City, Mo., mob boss
Sam Giancana, Chicago mob boss
Murray Llewellyn Humphreys, alleged lieutenant of Chicago mobster Al Capone
Joseph Sica, Los Angeles mobster
Michael Coppola, New York City mob enforcer
John Louis Battaglia, Los Angeles mob member
Robert L. Garcia, Southern California mob member
Motel Grzebienacy, Kansas City, Mo., mob member

Legal Ramifications

While the black book is part of state law, some establishments are exempted. Bars, stores and airports which have 15 slots or fewer, and don’t have any betting tables, do not have to participate with the black book.

Anyone on the list can dispute it through a hearing. Violating the black book rules is a misdemeanor charge.

Over the years, several persons have challenged the legality of the book. Both federal and state courts have ruled in its favor.

The Takeaway

The Black Book — which wasn’t black for long and isn’t actually a book anymore — was created to prohibit people with felony convictions against the gaming industry from entering a casino, and those on the list are committing gross misdemeanors if they choose to enter a casino despite their ban. In the book’s first 40 years, there were 49 people added to the list. Since 2000, fewer than a dozen have been added.

Social Media

Twitter

The ‘Black Book’ of Las Vegas tells casinos who can and can’t gamble.

Twitter

Once a person is listed in Nevada’s black book, they moment they step inside any casino in the state, they are breaking the law.

Facebook

Gamblers caught cheating in Vegas may find themselves banned from entering any casino.

LinkedIn

Sam Giancana, who shared a mistress with former-President Kennedy, is one of the freshman class inscribed into Vegas’ black book.

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