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Don’t Bet Against the House: The Felony of Cheating a Casino in Ohio

Hollywood Casino Columbus recently celebrated its first birthday. That establishment and Ohio’s three other casinos in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo, have succeeded in keeping gambling money within the state rather than seeing it escape to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Some visitors to the casinos aren’t satisfied with an evening of entertainment. They want to win big, even if they have to cheat to do so. In the year and a half since the first casino opened, 90 people have been indicted for cheating at Ohio casinos.

Ohio law prohibits various cheating methodologies

Under Ohio law, it is a crime to cheat at a casino game. The law also provides specific examples of cheating, including the following:

  • Using a device that enables you to count cards or otherwise affect the game’s outcome
  • Using counterfeit chips
  • Trying to get the casino to pay you even if you didn’t win

Violation of these laws is a felony. If you are convicted, the Ohio Casino Control Commission has the right to ban you from the state’s casinos for life.

Defenses to allegations of cheating

Casinos are filled with overhead cameras, private security guards and watchful dealers tracking your every move. If you’ve cheated, they’ve got it on tape. On the other hand, if you didn’t cheat, there are a couple of defenses:

  • Innocent mistake
  • Lack of evidence

An innocent mistake defense arises when you had no intention of cheating and your act was nothing more than an error. For example, if there were one or two foreign coins among 100 quarters you put in the slot machine, that could be considered an honest mistake. Lack of evidence is always a defense to a criminal charge and in casino cheating allegations if the camera doesn’t clearly support the casino’s claims and there isn’t enough evidence to support a conviction.

A conviction of cheating a casino is a felony no matter how small the amount of money involved. If you are charged with cheating, it is crucial that you contact the experienced Ohio criminal defense attorneys of Yavitch & Palmer Co., LPA, who have years of experience in defending both felonies and gambling offenses.

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