Seven Battlefords area residents will appear in court next month in connection with a cheating at play investigation at the Gold Eagle Casino.
Live games dealer Christopher Stone, 25, was charged with cheating at play and theft over $5,000. Also charged were Xiao Zhuang, 32; Wade Wang, 36; Ceciellia Swiftwolfe, 28; Ken Mark, 28; Christopher Belanger, 38; and Rueben Bear, 27.
The charges were laid following a two-year investigation initiated by officials from the Sask. Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) and Indigenous Gaming Regulators Inc.
Battlefords RCMP were contacted and a criminal investigation was launched. An RCMP gaming expert was brought in to review the evidence, including surveillance videos.
"The Gold Eagle Casino has the procedures and policies in place to deal with these sorts of things. They did a good job of providing us with information and making sure this was dealt with in an appropriate manner," said Cpl. Jason Teniuk with the Battlefords detachment.
The charges did not stem from a single event, but a series of incidents over an 18-month period, said Teniuk.
He declined to say how much money was involved.
RCMP have not determined if the individuals charged were working together.
"Not all seven were there at the same time," said Teniuk.
"Whether they were working as a group or not I don't know."
The accused will appear in Provincial Court May 30.
All have been banned from SIGA casinos.
Daniel Morin, director of security and surveillance with the Sask. Indian Gaming Authority, said the organization has a number of controls in place in its casinos to safeguard against cheating, including supervisors in the live games area, surveillance departments and monitoring the financial highs and lows at each table.
"The big thing for us is we want to make sure we have good clean gaming in our casinos, and we will take whatever measures are necessary to keep gaming integrity at a high level," he said.
"We consider this [incident] proof that what we're doing is working."
Morin said SIGA has investigated suspicious incidents before, but cheating is not a major problem in any of its casinos.
"It's the glamorous part of gambling around the world, but it's not really a problem [in Saskatchewan]," he said.
According to Teniuk, a cheating at play charge has only been laid one other time in Saskatchewan - in 2005, a dealer at the Gold Eagle Casino was out $50; when the money was returned, the charges were dropped.
Cheating at play and theft over $5,000 each carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison.