Casinos Go to Wild Extremes to Keep 'Whales' Playing
Casinos' rules are nebulous when it comes to their biggest players, dealers complain
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 30, 2015 9:09 AM CDT
In this 2013 file photo, patrons play craps at a table at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. In the competition to attract and keep the biggest spenders, casinos are known to pull out the stops.   (Jessica Hill)

(Newser) – One high roller requests a refrigerator full of bananas that he squeezes and throws as he gambles. Another urinates against a wall. Others throw chairs, scream at dealers, and expect rules to be bent. In the increasing competition for the biggest spenders, casinos pull out all the stops with comped hotel rooms, meals, and rebates for a percentage of their losses. But some dealers say efforts to retain the players—known as "whales"—go much further, with casinos tolerating abuse and extending courtesies that test the integrity of the games. "All men are created equal except in the casino," said a pit manager at the Mohegan Sun, one of the world's largest casinos, in a recent hearing before the tribal gaming commission. He was testifying in support of a pit boss who was fired this year after the casino accused her of helping a high roller cheat by allowing late bets at a blackjack table.

She and other employees say dealers frequently grant similar requests from top players. Mohegan Sun's president said its termination of the dealers involved and its ejection of the player demonstrate it does not tolerate any bending of the rules. But a rep for a casino dealers' union said rules are frequently ignored at high-stakes tables. "The casinos pretend they have rules that are set in stone, like going into a bank or dealing with a police station. Are they supposed to allow late bets? Absolutely not. Do they do it all the time? All the time," he says. "The abuse, the screaming, the cheating, the sexual harassment. Throwing things around. It's worse all the time." Gaming commissions enforce rules at casinos across the country, but the scrutiny can vary by jurisdiction. Inspectors in Atlantic City have a reputation for toughness, but Connecticut tribes that own the casinos control their own gaming commissions.