Slot machines: it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, just make sure you win or lose

♫ I’ve got my eyes on you, so best beware where you roam.
I’ve got my eyes on you, so don’t stray too far from home.
Incidentally, I’ve set my spies on you.
I’m checking on all you do, from A to Z.

– Cole Porter, 1939

Cole Porter’s tinged-with-jealousy love song takes on new meaning once you step inside a casino.

Slot players watch each other. The casino’s floor walkers watch all of them. Floor supervisors watch the watchers. Pit bosses watch the blackjack dealers and players. Other watchers watch the players, base dealers, stickman and boxman at the craps table.

And in an air-conditioned room full of monitors, security personnel watch the entire show via feeds from dozens of strategically placed cameras.

Not surprisingly, they’re watching for cheaters. But it might surprise you to know that they’re also watching, as we learn from a pair of Michigan Court of Appeals opinions, for people who might be using slot machines to launder money.

Here’s the theory: Let’s say you’ve got some ill-gotten cash that needs to be legitimized. What to do? Take the cash and load a few hundred, or if you’re in a hurry, a thousand or two into a slot machine. Play once or twice. Cash out and take the pay ticket from the machine. Repeat as necessary.

You now have a bunch of casino pay tickets to establish in one way or another that your money has been acquired by legitimate means.

The problem, of course, is that you’re spending lots of time feeding cash into slot machines, very little time actually playing the machine and then cashing out, and then doing this over and over.

And it’s a sure bet that the watchers have been watching with great interest.

Now there may be very innocent reasons why you’re engaging in this sort of play. Everyone has some idiosyncrasies, especially when it comes to hanging out in casinos.

Or maybe you’re getting set to launder a big load of money by cashing some pay tickets at a casino teller’s cage (but not enough to trigger a reporting requirement) and the rest at a pay kiosk that doesn’t ask any questions.

The watchers have no idea what you’re thinking about but “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck,” they’re not inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt and write you off as a goofball.

So the authorities are summoned and questions are asked.

This has happened a couple of times to Catherine Simmons at the Greektown Casino. Her style of slot machine play and cashing out aroused enough suspicion that Michigan State Police gaming agents were  twice called upon to check her out.

Each time, no charges were brought. Each time Simmons was aggravated enough to sue the cops, who, the Court of Appeals ruled in a pair of opinions, were just doing their jobs and therefore immune from suit. See, Simmons v. Grandison and Simmons v. Greektown Casino, et al.

Who would have ever thought that there’s a right way and a wrong way to play a slot machine?

MSC denies Plunkett rehearing

The Michigan Supreme Court has denied the defendant’s motion for rehearing in People v Plunkett, the recent decision in which the court held a defendant who purchases drugs can be charged with aiding and abetting the delivery of drugs.

In our April 12, 2010 issue, we discussed the controversial decision, which, if read literally, could be extended to mean that any party to a transactional  crime (running a gambling operation, sale of drugs, etc.) could be charged with aiding and abetting that crime. Several attorneys criticized the wording of the opinion, if not the opinion itself, as going too far by turning misdemeanor activities like drug possession into felonies.  [Subscription req’d].

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