Shaun Joseph Benward, self-proclaimed magician and illusionist, is on the brink of being added to the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s List of Excluded Persons, colloquially known as the Black Book.
This list effectively bans individuals from all Nevada brick & mortar casinos, for life. Benward, who has been evicted from 17 gambling venues in the state over the years, is no stranger to the gaming industry’s watchful eyes.
Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael Somps made the case for adding Benward to the banned list in a meeting on Wednesday.
However, the magician and convicted casino cheater has the right to a hearing before the ban can be enacted, as per Nevada regulations.
“Certainly the enforcement division has had quite a bit of contact with this gentleman, and law enforcement in general has had extensive contact with this gentleman, and your presentation lays that all out,” Gaming Control Board Chairman Kirk Hendrick told Somps.
The Illusionist’s Modus Operandi
Benward’s alleged casino scam is simple, but apparently sometimes effective. Working alongside an accomplice, he would engage roulette dealers in conversation, winning their trust.
As the game progressed, he would place his bet late, and once the ball settled, he’d claim the dealer had mistakenly placed his chips on the wrong number. His accomplice would corroborate the story, often leading to flustered dealers allowing the bet to stand.
This method of deception saw Benward allegedly profit to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
However, it has also resulted in him being kicked out of casinos across multiple states. His name appears on exclusion lists for brick & mortar casinos in Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Michigan. Furthermore, he has faced arrests or convictions for cheating in several states, including Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, and Rhode Island.
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The Man Behind the Magic
Promoting himself on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, Benward showcases his magical talents under the pseudonym “Shaun Mistery.” One of his YouTube videos even features him performing at the Almanett Hotel in Gulfport, Mississippi.
However, his online presence isn’t just limited to magic tricks. He’s shared moments from his visits to various casinos, including a photo with a statue of Julius Caesar inside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The final decision on Benward’s inclusion in the “black book” rests with the Nevada Gaming Commission. The time line for this decision remains uncertain.
If Benward becomes the latest cheater to be added the Nevada black book, his mugshot will be added to the publicly available list, published here.
Always a Bigger Cheat
Cheating in Nevada casinos is nowhere near as rife as it once was decades ago, partly because of casinos and regulators efforts. But it does still happen.
Earlier this year, a group of four men were charged with committing a fraudulent act in a gaming establishment after they allegedly cheated Las Vegas casinos out of $270,000 at craps tables. The group reportedly used a technique called “dice sliding” over a two week period of play at The Cosmopolitan in 2021.
The biggest cheater in Las Vegas history, however, didn’t play table games. Instead, one-time locksmith Dennis Nikrasch stole $16 million from rigged casino slot machines over a period of 20 years, from the late 1970s, and then again in the early ’90s.