Ex-craps dealer linked to $1.2M scam is banished from Nevada casinos

A former craps dealer at the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas now has the dubious distinction of being the 36th person listed in the state of Nevada’s “black book” – a register of those excluded from casinos in the state.

Mark Branco was recently released from prison after being convicted in April 2016 of theft and cheating at gambling.

He and three others had been linked to a $1.2 million scam that involved overcoming odds of 452 billion-to-1, according to a report.

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The scheme ran from August 2012 to July 2014, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Former Bellagio casino craps dealer Mark Branco. (Clark County Detention Center /Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP) 

Former Bellagio casino craps dealer Mark Branco. (Clark County Detention Center /Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP) 

Branco and another craps dealer, identified as James Russell Cooper, and two friends would place “hop bets” – in which players shout out which number they believe will come up next in the dice game.

But casino investigators became suspicious when they realized the winnings were beating astronomical odds, the newspaper reported. Turns out the two dealers had been throwing the games in favor of their friends, the report said.

Court documents indicated the dealers accepted the bets from their friends after the winning numbers were already called, KSNV-TV of Las Vegas reported. The Bellagio immediately fired Branco and Cooper when the scam was discovered, the report said.

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Of the four defendants, Branco received the longest prison sentence, at four to 10 years, the Review-Journal reported.

Cooper and friends Jeffrey Martin and Anthony Granito received lesser sentences.

All four men pleaded guilty, KSNV reported.