For some fraudsters, being included in the black book is so much of a burden that they’d rather go to jail if that helps avoid entry in the book. An insider in the gambling industry recalls the recent case of a trickster who was famous for marking cards on the blackjack table . “He was arrested at home, and the guy owned a mini-factory producing grease (the dye used to identify cards), fraud equipment, and disguises,” the insider reported. “He made his living by looting casinos and didn’t want to be banned from the house.”
It is said that he did everything he could to serve a sentence in order not to get into the black book. “He would have preferred that much,” said the guarantor. “But the guy did not make it and can now no longer be seen in any casino in Nevada.” He pleaded guilty to the criminal break-in and received probation – plus an entry in the book.
While it’s hard to get into the Black Book (to be included in the criminal gallery, you have to do something that the leaders of the Nevada Gaming Control Board really take away), it’s even harder to get out of there. Most who manage to escape the book do so by dying. Even giving up playing doesn’t help. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the last of the surviving gangsters mentioned in the Black Book of the early days was the Los Angeles-based mob boss Louis Thomas Dragna. He died in 2012 at the age of 92 and only escaped the book thanks to his death.
But what is it like to be in the black book? Surprisingly, most of the members of this opaque sect – apart from the fraudster mentioned earlier – don’t seem to mind too much.
First of all, you are probably already a persona non grata in most of the casinos anyway, if you do something so disreputable that an entry is made in the book. In certain circles, this is actually basically an advertisement for one’s own abilities to dupe others. “Being mentioned in the book,” says the expert map marker William Gene Land, “was an honorary award. I did the thing, which gave me a lot of chances – if you know what I mean by that.”
What he wants to express is that he was able to work with a highly profitable map marking teams operating in an area beyond the scope of the book. Land that now says it has withdrawn from fraud (“I’m retired. I stay at home and play with my grandchildren.”) Earned millions of dollars playing games despite its notorious reputation. “I couldn’t go to a casino in Nevada anymore,” he admits, “but there were plenty of gaming opportunities outside of the United States.”
Another new addition to the Black Book – a scam which is known to have tampered with slot machines and asked not to give his name – also takes it easy. “Basically it doesn’t really affect me,” he says. “[Being in the book] felt more like a stunt than anything else. The irony is that I live in Las Vegas (where bars and even supermarkets usually have slot machines), and I can walk into any bar to play on a slot machine .”
He thinks about it for a minute, then laughs and finally says: “So how much sense did it make?”