I’ve been playing at casinos for many years now, and by no means would I consider myself a high roller. I’ve received a few enticing comp offers in my day. A free buffet lunch here, a nominal gift card to the souvenir shop—but nothing like the stories we often hear, such as comped suites that would cost the average Joe a few weeks’ pay. But when it comes to preferential treatment from the casino staff, how far is too far?
I once personally witnessed a high-betting individual screaming vehemently at a lovely young dealer. The irate gambler had lost eight consecutive $1,000 bets, and was absolutely certain that the dealer was cheating him.
After verbally berating her with every four letter word in the book, and actually attempting to pick up his seat and throw it at her (thankfully, like most things in a classy casino, it was bolted down), the pit boss came over. I thought yes, it’s about time – you’ll tell this s.o.b. he needs to get out and stay out. But that isn’t what happened at all.
Instead, as the fuming player continued (somewhat more quietly) to call the dealer a cheat while praising the pit boss who he was certain was about the fire her, the floorman instead whispered something in her ear. She nodded slowly and, as I watched this unfold, saw her eyes dart once to the infuriated customer, then back down again before walking quietly away from the table.
A new dealer arrived, a stately young gentlemen who immediately greeted the unceremonious 4-figure bettor before setting up a new shoe of cards and calling for bets. The next thing I know, the lovely young dealer returns with a bright smile, only to deliver a plate of macadamia nuts and a bottle of some foreign brand of alcohol I’d never seen before to the not-so-gentlemen who’d verbally assaulted her only moments before.
This may be the only comparable scenario I’ve experienced, but such incidents—and worse—are taking place at casinos all the time. These guests are rarely denied even the most ridiculous of requests, such as a mini-fridge filled with their favorite fruit to be placed next to their seat.
Aside from being annoying, inane requests and angry outburst don’t really affect the rest of the players at the tables. What’s worse is when they are allowed to get away with breaking the rules, like placing late bets at the blackjack table, which is clearly against the rules.
The frequency of such objectionable behavior came to light recently when a pit boss by the name of Maria DeGiacomo sued Mohegan Sun for wrongful dismissal after being accused of aiding a high roller in cheating. While she admitted to allowing the high-rolling regular (pro golfer Mathew Menchetti whose reportedly lost over $1 million at the casino), to place a late wager, she and other dealers came to her defense by stating that casinos often acquiesce to similar requests from regular high rollers.
Her pit manager, Glen Costales, also testified on DeGiacomo’s behalf. “All men are created equal except in the casino,” Costales told the tribal gaming commission. “If it’s a premium player, he gets away with a lot more than the five-dollar player would get away with.”
Mohegan Sun defended its right to fire DeGiacomo and other dealers involved in the case, asserting that they do not tolerate any breach of the rules, but Shane Kaufman, a dealer himself and VP for the Las Vegas Branch of Transport Workers Union, which represents thousands of casino dealers across the US, says otherwise.
“The casinos pretend they have rules that are set in stone, like going into a bank or dealing with a police station,” said Kaufman. “Are they supposed to allow late bets? Absolutely not. Do they do it all the time?” he questioned, answering affirmatively, “All the time.
“The abuse, the screaming, the cheating, the sexual harassment. Throwing things around,” Kaufman argued. “It’s worse all the time.”
DeGiacomo’s case is still pending.