Player Rewards Abused in $422,000 Pennsylvania Casino Scam

Player Rewards Abused in $422,000 Pennsylvania Casino Scam The feds have uncovered a casino scam involving over $422,000 in winnings at the Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania.

The scheme involved an elaborate plan between the VP of Player Development, 50-year-old Robert Pellegrini, a player, 51-year-old Mark Heltzel, and a casino cocktail waitress whose identity was not disclosed.

Heltzel was dating the cocktail waitress and the two conspired with Pellegrini as he was in charge of player rewards. When ordering drinks, players would hand over their player cards and personal identification numbers to the waitress so she could easily charge their comp balances without interrupting their table game play. She would give the information to Pellegrini who would create additional cards and load them up with free play, which was then handed over to Heltzel to download onto the Video Poker machines.

According to the indictment, Heltzel won three $2,000 jackpots from May 2014 to April 2015 using free play. Due to the amount, he was required to provide identification to be paid and each time he was identified as the winner.

Approximately 160 player accounts were fraudulently used in the scam and Pellegrini added over $478,000 in free slot play in total.

The cocktail waitress was not named in the indictment; however if convicted, Pellegrini and Heltzel stand to pay $500,000 in fines and spend up to 20 years in prison.

Charges originate from an investigation led by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Investigations and Pennsylvania State Police with Luzerne County district attorney's office assisting.
  • 160 player accounts were fraudulently used in the scam for about $422,000 in winnings. I guess they did not know when to stop. That's what happens when you get greedy. You get caught. There are a lot of people who work in that industry that looks for the opening to scam from a casino. But what people don't realize that these place pretty much seen it all and if they have not seen it they think of the ways that it can or might happen in order to close those gaps .
  • I think in most of the cheats in casinos,there must be one man that works for casino that knows about the cheating or even helping the cheater.It is in human nature and the main reason why casinos are being cheated.It is even described in the great movie with Mat Damon,called " The Rounders".
  • I don't get this. Was he playing for free with duplicate cards of other people? That is how I read the article. But if so, Heltzel would have to show his ID when he won jackpots over $1,200 and it wouldn't match the name on the card he was playing with. Whatever the case, where money is involved people will try to cheat. And 99% of the time greed takes over and they get caught. It may work for a while, but in the end they will get busted.

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