Last of member of the Bellagio craps cheating ring placed into Nevada’s Black Book

Last of member of the Bellagio craps cheating ring placed into Nevada’s Black Book

  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
May 23, 2019 8:53 PM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Other

Mark Branco, a former Bellagio craps dealer who led a four-person group that cheated the Las Vegas Strip casino out of an estimated $1.2 million, became the 36th person added to the state’s List of Excluded Persons on Thursday.

The Nevada Gaming Commission took less than 15 minutes to add Branco to the list, commonly referred to as the Black Book.

Mark Branco in custody at a court hearing

He did not appear at the hearing to challenge the nomination. Branco, who had been in prison since he was convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court, was recently released from custody.

Gaming commission members did not make any comments on the matter.

Branco became the last of the four to be included in the Black Book. Anthony Granito, James Cooper and Jeffrey Martin were placed on the list last year during gaming commission hearings. Martin – Branco’s brother-in-law – was the only one to who contested his inclusion.

Granito, Cooper, Martin and Branco teamed up between August 2012 and July 2014 to cheat the Bellagio. The scheme was discovered in 2014 when casino authorities noticed a series of winning wagers that defied 452 billion-to-1 odds.

Cooper cooperated with the investigation and told a Clark County Grand Jury how the cheating worked.

The cheating ring concocted a scheme that used phantom “hop” bets. Cooper and Branco were Bellagio craps dealers and Granito and Martin were the players involved in the action. When Cooper and Branco were at a craps table, Granito and Martin would step up and mutter confusing bets amid last-second activity before the roll of the dice. They’d win no matter what the outcome.

Being included in the Black Book makes it a crime for that person to enter a Nevada gaming establishment.

Technically, the only way to be removed from the List is by death, although Nevada gaming law allows a person to petition the gaming commission for removal. No one has ever petitioned successfully to have their name removed.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.