Tässä hyvä artikkeli aiheesta
The Hungarian blonde, the two Serbs, the hidden gadget … and the very angry casino
From Gabriel Ronay in Budapest
“Mesdames et messieurs, faites vos jeux. Rien ne va plus”, the Ritz Club casino croupier intoned in London last week. A pity he did not say: “Holgyeim es uraim, tegyek meg fogadasukat; senki tobbet” as they say it in Budapest, because the surprise might have put a glamorous Hungarian blonde and her two Serbian escorts off their stroke.
The trio, who allegedly used a high-tech laser scanner to beat the system at London’s Ritz Club, are well known to Hungarian gambling experts and have been banned from all the top Budapest casinos.
But when the wheel began to roll at the Ritz, the trio stayed cool as one of them allegedly used a scanner hidden in a mobile phone to win £100,000 on March 16. The following evening, they made a tidy £1.2 million profit at the Ritz’s roulette table.
The Club’s management, suspecting that the trio were working for an East European syndicate, concluded that they were using a state-of-the-art scanner to predict the outcome of selected spins. And if their suspicions were right, the group could have reduced the odds of winning from 37-1 to 6-1.
Security chiefs suspect that they used the scanner to measure the speed of the ball which, analysed by a computer, would indicate a cluster of numbers within which the ball is likely to land. As they had pocketed a total of £1.3m in just two days, Scotland Yard was called in.
The group was arrested, their mobile phones seized and hotel rooms searched. Although a lot of cash was found, the three were released on bail because technically they had not broken any laws. They could not be named for legal reasons.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the Hungarian woman, 32, and the Serbs, 33 and 38, were being investigated “in connection with allegations of obtaining money by deception through gambling. The allegations were made by a casino in London.”
The Ritz is part of the Barclay brothers’ commercial empire, which also includes the Scotsman and Scotland On Sunday newspapers.
The con did not elicit great surprise in Budapest gambling circles. Sandor Bikali, Varkert Casino’s manager, said: “we too have had gamblers here who had been caught red-handed using similar gadgets abroad. The woman involved in the London incident is on our casino’s blacklist.”
He also confirmed that the alleged laser scanner device was being used in Hungary. “The operating principle of the gadget is relatively simple,” he said. “A laser beam measures one position of the inert ball, say, on zero, then when the ball is spun it measures its speed, tracks its movement and works out its likely landing spot.”
But Gyorgy Szabo, a senior university lecturer, is doubtful about the laser scanner widget. “We know of methods based on estimating the speed of the ball, but the combination of laser scanner and microcomputer is not really a feasible cheating tool because of the time factor involved,” he said.
“To determine the movement of a roulette ball one must have a scanner capable of geometrical measurements. There are two such machines in existence in Hungary, each costing about £140,000 and weighing 10kg. But to calculate the trajectory of a ball in a few seconds, one would need huge computer power – impossible to fit into a mobile phone,” added Szabo.
Such practical difficulties tend to suggest another theory is more likely. The Hungarian croupier “Zoltan”, who has many years’ experience, said he believed “oglers” were behind the Ritz Casino scam and that Serbs are the professionals behind it. He added that there are actual ogler schools in Serbia. Trained to follow the movement of the ball, an “ogler” can estimate on which part of the wheel it is likely to land and so shorten the odds. “We call them ‘evil eyes’,” added Zoltan.
Whether it was a high-tech scam or an ogler’s con, the Ritz trio have a sporting chance of getting away with it, because anyone accused of cheating in Britain can only be prosecuted under the Gaming Act of 1845 – and the archaic law is blind to state-of-the-art gadgets.
28 March 2004