A scam that was uncovered at Hamilton’s SkyCity Casino involving a Chinese national, her ex-boyfriend and a corrupt roulette dealer, ended in Hamilton District Court on 27 August 2013. Xiao Lu, 28, and her ex-boyfriend Zhou Zhao, 32, were found guilty of deception, after corrupt dealer Bo Du, 33, had already been sentenced earlier in the year. Zhou, a New Zealand resident, was sentenced to home detention and ordered to pay reparations, while Xiao received a sentence entailing community service and deportation back to China.
Xiao and Zhou, working in partnership with corrupt roulette dealer Bo, defrauded SkyCity in Hamilton of over NZD$50,000, of which Bo pocketed half. The scams took place over a period of nine months between July 2011 and April 2012. It is thought that one evening alone, the couple each won six times and pocketed over NZD$5,000.
The way the scam operated was that Bo Du would allow both Xiao Lu and Zhou Zhao, when no other players were at the table, to place bets after the ball had dropped on a roulette wheel. Bo engineered this by releasing the ball early and so circumventing the electronic cut off for last bets.
It was Xiao who made the initial approach in 2011 to Bo, who had worked at the casino for six years, although it was conceded at her trial that Xiao was extremely naive and unduly influenced by her older boyfriend Zhou. However, it also emerged at the trials that the finer details of the scam were worked out by Bo.
Ironically, Xiao and Zhou were such frequent visitors to the casino that they received loyalty cards. This, however, contributed to the deception being discovered, as analysis of their cards showed that they were winning too much and too often. This is what triggered investigations by SkyCity management, who in turn called in officers from the Department of Internal Affairs’ Gambling Compliance squad.
In addition to community service and deportation, Xiao was ordered to pay reparations of NZD$4,000—the Crown had been seeking a sum of NZD$13,000, but she claimed to have no other money and no means of supporting herself—while Zhou received five months’ home detention and paid NZD$13,000 in reparations. Bo had already been sentenced in January 2013, when she was ordered to pay back NZD$26,000 and to serve nine months’ home detention.