Mihai Lacatos, the Romanian gambler who cheated casinos out of tens of thousands of pounds, has been jailed for 18 months after admitting 14 fraud charges brought against him.
Lacatos was charged on November 20, 2014 and pleaded guilty to 14 counts of fraud and four counts of possessing false identity documents with intent between January 2008 and November 2014. The 62-year old used fake identity cards and driving licenses to gain entry to casinos that he had been banned from previously.
Detective first started looking for Lacatos after Caesars Entertainment, owners of the exclusive Playboy Club in London, claimed Lacatos had cheated them out of £43,400 between January 8 and January 15, 2014 by making small dents in some of the playing cards which gave him a significant advantage.
The Metropolitan Police Service Gaming Unit circulated Lacatos’ image to casinos the length and breadth of the UK and he was recognised by staff at the Rubicon Casino on Regent Street on March 31, 2014 where he was arrested and had £1,485 confiscated from him under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Lacatos was bailed until May 13 but skipped bail and continued to cheat casinos in London and Northampton. Detectives eventually caught up with the cheat in the departure lounge of Luton Airport on November 20, 2014 and once again arrested him and confiscated more funds. He was held in custody before appearing at Southwark Crown Court on February 27, 2014 where he pleaded guilty to all charges again him.
Sentencing Lacatos to 18 months imprisonment, Recorder Alexander Layton QC said:
“After you had been arrested you attempted to flee the country, two of the offences were committed while you were on bail and you have previous convictions in Romania for offences relating to false identity documents.
“You have pleaded guilty to 18 counts - all of which were related to a campaign of cheating in casinos up and down the country over a period stretching back some six years.”
This is thought to be the first jail sentence awarded for card marking, but it could have been much worse for Lacatos because in February 2014 Lord Moynihan put forward (to the House of Lords) an amendment to the Gambling Act 2005 that increased the maximum jail sentence for cheating at gambling from two to 10 years.
Lead image courtesy of Brunch News