Tue, Apr 20, 2010
The Straits Times
Man from China first to be convicted of casino fraud

By Elena Chong

A CHINESE national who placed a late bet of $600 on a game at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) was jailed for 10 months yesterday for trying to cheat the casino.

The conviction is the first involving a conman at the casino since RWS opened its doors on Feb 14.

In sending Hou Yongwei to jail, District Judge Ronald Gwee agreed with the prosecution that a deterrent sentence was needed to send a clear message that such crimes would not be tolerated.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Ngoh told the court that had the surveillance team not picked up what Hou did at the table, he would have got away with the offence on March 28.

Referring to the 26-year-old, DPP Ngoh said: "He had done all that he had to do to cheat the dealer and the only reason why he did not succeed was due to the vigilance of the dealer and the casino surveillance team."

Hou, who has lost his job as a construction worker since his arrest on March 28, had placed $600 worth of chips on a game of Tai Sai, or Big Small, a game of chance played with three dice.

However, Hou, who was sitting right in front of the dealer, placed his bet only when the winning number was declared. He would have won $6,000 had the dealer not caught him in the act.

The dealer alerted his supervisor who in turn told the casino's security manager about Hou's attempt to cheat.

The security manager then took a look at the video footage from the security cameras and confirmed what the dealer had spotted: Hou had indeed placed a late bet after the result was declared - an act known as past posting.

DPP Ngoh said in his submission before sentencing yesterday that if such offences were not nipped in the bud, Singapore's "global branding as a clean, honest, safe and law-abiding place to live in" would be tarnished.

Pleading for leniency, Hou told the court that he had acted on impulse and regretted his "big mistake".

"I wasn't in a clear mind then because it was past midnight, but later when my mind became clearer, I knew what I had done. I had been gambling for the whole night, and I also had a bit to drink," he said in Mandarin.

Judge Gwee warned all potential cheats at gaming tables that the courts took a dim view of such offences and would impose severe sentences to deter those like Hou.

"If there is evidence of pre-planning and collusion with other accomplices or where sophisticated means are employed in the offences...the sentences meted out will be even more severe," he said.

Hou could have been jailed for up to five years for attempted cheating.




This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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