Duh: ‘Whales’ Get Special Treatment

Giving special treatment to high rollers, including bending the rules for them is not so uncommon at the Mohegan Sun, claims a former pit boss who is contesting her firing because she did just that earlier this year. The hearing is being held before the tribal gaming commission.

A case where a former pit boss at the Mohegan Sun is contesting her firing for allegedly bending the rules for a “high roller” is focusing the spotlight on what some dealers at the Sun say is a widespread pattern of tolerating abuse, allowing bizarrely eccentric behavior and violating casino rules in order to keep so-called “whales” content and spending money.

Several dealers at hearing last week before the Mohegan tribal gaming commission testified about one player who was allowed to urinate against the wall, while another threw chairs and abused dealers and others expected some rules to be suspended.

Maria DeGiacomo was fired several months ago after she was accused by the casino of allowing a high roller to make late bets at a blackjack table. DeGiacomo and others testified that such rules are frequently bent for high spending players.

The Las Vegas Sun quoted pit boss Glen Costales as telling the commission: “All men are created equal except in the casino. If it’s a premium player, he gets away with a lot more than the five dollar player would get away with.”

Some dealers said that tolerance for eccentricities can stray into behavior that compromises the integrity of the games.

DeGiacomo was fired in connection with the case of golf professional Matthew Menchetti, a regular at the casino who has lost millions playing at the Sun. In February he and two dealers were arrested after casino security concluded that his play was suspicious. Police did not file charges after an investigation showed that the dealers made the decision to allow Menchetti to bend the rules.

The casino management argues that this shows the casino does not tolerate rules violations. The union that represents the dealers, the Transport Workers Union, counters that casino management frequently turns a blind eye to such violations.

According to Shane Kaufman, vice president of the union, “The casinos pretend they have rules that are set in stone, like going into a bank or dealing with a police station. Are they supposed to allow late bets? Absolutely not. Do they do it all the time? All the time.” He added, “The abuse, the screaming, the cheating, the sexual harassment. Throwing things around. It’s worse all the time.”

One dealer testified that behavior that wouldn’t have been tolerated 30 years ago is tolerated today due to rising competition.

Another dealer said that in the case of Menchetti that he never expected to be allowed to steal, but did expect to be given more time than normal to make his bet. The dealer compared it to a high roller asking for extra loyalty points to make a purchase at a jewelry store.

For his own part, Menchetti says he feels he was used by a casino manager as an excuse for getting rid of a pit boss he didn’t like.