The 2014 Borgata Winter Open was the hot topic of discussion last year, not due to exciting game play, but a counterfeit chip incident. The world watched as the $1 million guaranteed tournament event of the series was shut down with 27 players still remaining after fake chips were found to be in game play. As the investigation began, it was found that a competitor in the event had placed the counterfeit chips into game play. Christian Lusardi was the person responsible for introducing the chips and now faces serious penalties. However, his sentencing continues to be delayed and recently was moved to the 30th of March.
Employees of the casino helped crack the case due to plumbing issues. A backup in the system was traced back to Lusardi’s guest room, where it appeared he had attempted to place additional counterfeit chips into the toilet and flush them down the drain. This of course did not work and ended up getting Lusardi caught.
Once arrested, Lusardi faced several charges including rigging publicly exhibited content, criminal attempt and theft by deception. Since the tournament was shut down before completion, the Borgata handed out refunds of the buy-in amount for those who were affected. The Borgata was criticized on their decision to pay a certain amount of players a specific amount of money, not what was expected by those participating.
In the case, the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement and Lusardi were able to reach a plea agreement where the player was released on bail of $300,000. The plea agreement was sealed and Lusardi was free for the moment, but was soon placed on home detention after it was discovered he was operating a bootleg DVD business. A raid of his home resulted in over 37,000 DVDs, all of which were pirated. Lusardi was banned from visiting casinos, taking part in online gambling and had to give up any alcohol based on the conditions of his release.
Sentencing was first scheduled for January 6th but was postponed to February 17th. The sentencing was then postponed yet again and scheduled for the March 30th date. Hopefully, by the end of the month, Lusardi will be sentenced and the incident will just become another one of the oddities to add to the poker gaming history books.
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