Borgata Casino Using New Security Measures at Spring Open Tournament
Following a scandal at its last Winter Open event, Borgata Casino in Atlantic City is instituting a new chip policy for its Spring Open poker tournament. The Spring Open, which has the biggest prize pool for a poker tournament this year, begins this week.
During the previous Winter Open, a competitor named Christian Lusardi was accused of sneaking $2.7 million worth of fake chips into the tournament. Lusardi was eliminated from the Winter Open, but finished in the won $6,814. It was learned someone had introduced counterfeit chips to the event, so an investigation was started.
Fake Chips Later Found at Harrah’s Atlantic City Casino
It is alleged that Lusardi grew concerned he would be caught with his remaining stash of chips, so he flushed those chips down the toilet of his hotel room, which was at the Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. The amount of chips was too much for the pipes, which became clogged. Guests on he floor below Lusardi’s room complained to staff that water was dripping into their rooms.
When maintenance investigated, they found the chips. Though the counterfeit chips had no cash value, they were found to be worth $2.7 million in tournament value. Since the clogged pipes were traced to Christian Lusardi’s room and he was competing in the tournament with the fake chips, it was soon determined by investigators he was the likely culprit.
Christian Lusardi Charged with Crimes
Lusardi was arrested on charges of theft and rigging a public contest. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and the New Jersey State Police continue to investigate the crime.
Winter Open Suspended
When the full extent of the crime became known, tournament officials suspended the tournament, which was the Winter Open Big Stack, No Limit Hold ‘Em event. At the time play was suspended, 27 players remained in the contest.
The Winter Open had a prize pool of $2,407,000. The top prize was worth $372,123. When the suspension happened, 423 players had busted out and pocketed winnings, with a minimum cashout of $1,082.
At the time play was suspended, Allard Broedelet was the chip leader, with $10.315 million in chips. Allard Broedelet’s chip stack represented 10% of the chips still in play, with 26 other players still in contention. In February, some of the 27 players in the suspended tournament sued the Borgata in a class-action lawsuit, claiming the tournament was not supervised well enough.
For the upcoming Spring Open, several new policies will be in place. Spot checks of chips are going to be instituted, meaning any player can have their chip stack examined randomly.
Joe Lupo, SVP of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, said, “We will be checking chips randomly throughout the day using a new process involving the UV lights.” Lupo went on to describe the precautions as “part of the new normal” for all events at Borgata.
New Chips Will Be Used
The other major change in procedures is the inclusion of new poker tournament chips. The new chips will include a more intricate design, with more colors added to the standard chip design. These are classic anti-counterfeiting measures.
Another anti-counterfeit measure added is the use of an authentication element. This element can be checked under ultraviolet light. With these various precautions taken, players should be assured no fake chip stacks should occur during play, so the unfortunate situation where a tournament is suspended won’t happen again.
Joe Lupo added, “This was very expensive, but very necessary. In order to have the biggest tournaments in Atlantic City and as the market leader, we need to ensure the integrity of the games.”
Lusardi Still Being Held
As the Spring Open gets underway, Christian Lusardi is still be held. It is unknown at the present if he has contracted a lawyer. A call to learn more about the case made to Lusardi’s stated address in Arkansas went unanswered.
It is thought that Christian Lusardi ordered the chips from Hong Kong. During the investigation into his purchases, authorities found he had in his possession 37,000 illegal DVDs, so he is being sued for infringement in a separate case.
Winter Open Continued
Though the Big Stack, No Limit Hold ‘Em even was suspended at the Borgata Winter Open tournament, all other events continued as if nothing had happened. The Winter Open ran from January 14 to January 31 and had contained 23 events in all, so the suspension on January 17 was early in the schedule.
Security was tightened at remaining events through the January tournament, though the new policies are even more elaborate. Borgata has stated these policies will continue to be standard from now on, but all live tournaments venues should be expected to take their own measures against such cheating in the future.