Crime & the Law

Met Police Gaming Unit secures first casino ‘card marking’ conviction

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61-year-old Romanian card sharp Mihai Lacatos has today pleaded guilty to cheating casinos in London and all over the country out of nearly £44,400.

Lacatos tried to flee abroad after being picked up by the police for cheating at poker and using false IDs at the gaming tables of Britain’s leading casinos including the Playboy Club.

This is the Met Police’s first conviction for the specific cheating technique called ‘card marking.’

Caesars Entertainment, who own the Playboy Club in Mayfair, were the first to spot that Lacatos was a poker player who marked his cards.

He would spend hours playing at one table so that he could dent the centre of as many cards as he wanted.

After contacting Detectives in the Met Police Gaming Unit his picture was circulated to casinos across the UK.

Image courtesy of Met Police

Mihai Lacatos gambling at The Playboy Club in Mayfair. Image:  Met Police

He was caught and arrested in March 2014, and bailed to return to Charing Cross Police Station in May, but did not do so.

He was eventually traced to a departure lounge at Luton airport where officers seized nearly £3,000 and he was taken into custody.

Image courtesy of Met Police

Mihai Lacatos. Image: Met Police

Lacatos used the ‘card marking’ technique to cheat at three-card poker.

This involved using slight of hand to bend specific cards at the poker table, so that he would be able to identify specific cards, giving him a significant advantage.

The dents were so subtle his cheating initially went unnoticed.

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Lacatos was charged on 20th November 2014 and appeared today at Southwark Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to 18 offences.

The frauds were committed on the gaming tables of casinos in fourteen different towns and cities across the UK and date back as far as 2008.

In London he cheated at Rank Golden Horseshoe Casino in Bayswater, Genting Palm Beach Casino in Mayfair, Maxim’s Casino, and Rank Casino in Victoria as well as the Playboy Club in Mayfair.

He will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 16 March.

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