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Dumb Crooks, Mahjong and Ecstasy

Idiots at the gate

Dumb Crooks, Mahjong and Ecstasy

This issue of Global Gaming Business (“Making Gaming Great Again”) includes our annual section focusing on casino security and surveillance. As is tradition, we will thus offer our annual episode of Casino Police Blotter. This year’s episode is titled “Idiots at the Gate.”

In Ferndale, Washington, the garden spot of Whatcom County, a nefarious individual assaulted a woman in an attempted carjacking, threatening to shoot her in the parking lot of the Silver Reef Casino.

Ferndale, I happen to know without even looking it up in Wikipedia, was settled in 1872, and subsequently named for the ferns that grew around the original school house. (Presumably, planted by a guy named Dale.) Whatcom County was named after the Lummi Indian word Xwotʼqom, meaning “noisy water.” (As in, “Hand me that watchcom there so I can fix this noisy pipe.”)

But anyway, on the night in question, the woman had just opened her car door using a fob when this guy grabbed her and demanded the keys, threatening to shoot her with a gun he said was in his pocket. She screamed and managed to pull away, running into the casino for help.

The entire sequence was caught on video by parking lot surveillance cameras. Soon after that, Jesse Arthur Grooms was in custody on a Whatcom County warrant for robbery. Police had no trouble finding him, because get this: Before going out to the parking lot to jack a car, Grooms signed up for a player’s club card.

There was, of course, surveillance video of that, too. The victim easily identified the man. A cocker spaniel could have identified him. He was wearing the same clothing as during the attack, signing up for the club with his ID. Police now had his name and address, not to mention his birthday, favorite drink, player’s club point balance, and whether he preferred a smoking or non-smoking room.

You know, if there is a “Carjacker’s Handbook” somewhere on the internet (Jacking for Dummies, maybe?), I’ll bet the first rule in there reads, “Do not leave your name, address and mobile phone number at the location where you intend to facilitate a carjacking.”

I guess the guy never read the handbook. But at least he didn’t bite the police officers who came to arrest him. A casino security official in Niagara Falls wasn’t so lucky.

One day last month, a man was banned from New York’s Seneca Niagara Casino for some sort of slovenly prior behavior (news reports didn’t say what). A security manager spotted him in the casino after he had been kicked out, and moved to escort the gentleman toward the door. Allegedly, the man reached inside a bag to grab something, and when the security manager grabbed his arm to stop him, he bit the guard like a Rottweiler.

(It’s Canine Simile and Metaphor Day, by the way.)

Yep, took a nice chomp out of the officer’s wrist. Left a mark. Drew blood. No gun was found in the bag.

News items on the incident did not reveal what was, in fact, in the bag.

Maybe the guy was hungry, and was reaching in the bag for a sandwich. Maybe he was so hungry, when the guard took away his sandwich, he bit the closest meat, which was the security official’s arm.

We’ll look into that for you. Meanwhile, the security manager was treated at the scene. The biter was transported to Niagara Falls Police Headquarters, where he was checked for rabies and put to sleep.

Finally, police in Malaysia arrested a group of senior citizens who had started a makeshift casino in back of a shop-lot hotel, consisting of mahjong games and lots of drugs. The perpetrators—mostly elderly, with the oldest at 79—were reportedly playing mahjong and getting high from a drug buffet including heroin, ecstasy and Erimin 5. At press time, they were being held under a police remand order pending gambling and drug charges.

Gee, I hope they go easy on those old folks. Come on, who is getting hurt by 20 senior citizens kicking back for some gambling and partying? Why not let them have a good time, and eventually cruise off in style to the big mahjong parlor in the sky?

They may, in fact, be acquitted. After all, there were no surveillance cameras around.

And not one of those arrested had signed up for the player’s club.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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