A card dealer and two high roller players, who faced allegations of swindling The Star casino in New South Wales to fraudulently obtain AU$3 million by using hand signals in what was considered one of the biggest gambling suits in Australia in the last few years, were freed from criminal charges.
Now, the ruling of the NSW District Court is being appealed by prosecutors who seek a retrial, after judge Peter Whitford decided that the three men were not guilty and found that the Crown did not succeed to identify the one deceived by the alleged cheating scheme during baccarat games.
At a hearing, which took place late in 2018, the NSW District Court judge heard that bets amounting to more than AU$250,000 were made by the two high rollers over a period of 10 days in July 2016 in a private gaming suite.
Yesterday, a hearing which took place before the Court of Criminal Appeal took place, with Brett Hatfield, a Crown prosecutor, explaining that the dealer used a manual dexterity that is also known under the term “sleight of hand” to see the cards which were to come next in the deck. Allegedly, the dealer also signalled with his hands or used “phone communication” in order to help the two high rollers win. However, the legal representative of one of the two baccarat players, Peter Neil SC, insisted that there were photos of other casino dealers at the same place who used exactly the same hand movement, which lasted between 3 and 30 seconds.
District Court Finds No Evidence of Cheating a Particular Person
Each of the two high rollers faced charges of taking part in a criminal group and in using dishonest methods to obtain a monetary advantage by deceiving the casino. The two men also faced other charges of dishonestly obtaining or making attempts to obtain a benefit from the casino.
The high rollers applied for clearing all charges after the Crown provided evidence in the legal case against them. In the end, Judge Whitford found that a link existed between the alleged cheating scheme and the generated winnings which the two players generated, but he also found that no individual in particular had been deceived by the actions of the two men.
Crown prosecutor Hatfield, however, insists that the NSW District Court judge’s decision was what he called an “error of law”. He further noted that there was footage of the casino games and the shoes played, and added that every offence had been precisely identified. According to Mr Hatfield, depicting a natural person to be deceived was not an ingredient of paramount importance, as the prosecution office claims that it was the casino that was deceived and suffered losses, either directly or indirectly.
At the latest hearing, it also became clear that The Star casino was required to provide records of the supervisors at the time when the alleged scheme took place, which it did not do.
Legal representative Peter Neil SC insists there is a difference between deceiving and cheating someone and shared that if the appeal turns out successful, the prosecutors would make an attempt to press different charges to the high rollers, which would be fundamentally unfair.
A decision is expected to be provided by the court at a later date.