CLEVELAND -- New casinos are breeding grounds for cheats, according to a Las Vegas gambling expert, so he's not surprised casinos in Cleveland and Toledo already have been targeted by con artists.
Rookie dealers, untried surveillance, and large crowds signal a jackpot for scammers, according to George Joseph, owner of Worldwide Casino Consulting.
Aces and amateurs flock to tables at new establishments to see if they can put one over on the house.
An estimated tens of millions of dollars are lost industrywide each year to cheats, Mr. Joseph said.
Ohio is pursuing its first charges of cheating at Hollywood Casino Toledo and the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission said up to 25 people have been investigated for cheating and other offenses since the casinos opened in May.
The Pennsylvania State Police said 12 people have been charged with cheating at Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino since table games were introduced in 2010.
More instances were reported, but charges were not filed. Instead, people were banned from the state's casinos.
Mr. Joseph said any number of tricks -- from crude to high-tech -- could have been used at the Ohio casinos.
He said he knows so many tricks because he started cheating at card and dice games at age 13.
One of the most rudimentary techniques used at casinos is "capping and pinching," Mr. Joseph said.
With skillful sleight of hand, a cheat -- playing poker, for instance -- will add or remove chips from a bet once the final card is dealt.
If the hand is in a cheat's favor, the bet is "capped" by adding more chips to the bet.
A cheat will "pinch" chips from the bet on a loss.
A variation of this is chip-switching. If a hand is legitimately won, a cheat will quickly replace the bet with higher-value chips.
A roulette table can be beaten by two people, Mr. Joseph said.
When the ball lands on the wheel, one person distracts the table attendant while a partner places a bet on the winning number.
"These are the easiest things for surveillance to pick up on and prove," Mr. Joseph said, adding that the more work that goes into a con, the harder it is to detect.
One of the most elaborate cons he knows is a card-counting scheme involving hidden cameras, electronic vests, and massive collusion.
A casino worker marks the backs of cards with invisible ink.
Another person plays blackjack while wearing the vest and a tiny ink-reading camera on his shirt cuff.
The camera transmits the ink markings to a partner outside the building, who then sends signals to the vest, allowing the player to know what's hiding under the face-down cards.
"Cheaters can use some really high-tech stuff," Mr. Joseph said.
The latest scheme hitting the tables is quite simple -- dice sliding.
Throwers at craps tables line up their chosen numbers on the dice and slide the pair smoothly across the table when no one is looking.
This method swindles the casino and fellow players, Mr. Joseph said.
Mr. Joseph, 63, who is now a trusted consultant to casinos worldwide, said he has seen myriad scams throughout his career, but "the best scams are the ones that haven't even been uncovered."