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Trio, including blackjack dealer, accused of cheating at Buffalo casino

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LOCAL AERIAL Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino

Three people have been charged with felony gaming fraud following an incident at Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in August.

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Two guys at a blackjack table in Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino seemed to be having one heck of a night.

After nearly 2½ hours of playing cards, one of them won almost $5,300; the other, more than $2,200.

But the game wasn't on the up and up, according to police and prosecutors, and soon the two – as well as the dealer – would be in handcuffs.

Inside the casino, under the watchful eye of surveillance cameras, authorities came to suspect the dealer was showing the players cards they weren't supposed to see.

Police arrested two of them the next day – the dealer when she reported to work, and one of the men when he returned to the downtown casino.

The charges: felony gaming fraud.

Police arrested the dealer, identified in police and court records as Emily M. Torres, 20, of Lackawanna, when she showed up for work at the downtown casino on Aug. 16.

Mark M. Watson, 28, of Buffalo, the guy who won more than five grand before he walked out of the casino in the early morning hours of Aug. 15, was also arrested Aug. 16 at the casino, according to a police report.

Rahat Hossain, 34, of Buffalo, was arrested at the casino on Aug. 21, according to the report.

All three were charged with first-degree gaming fraud, a class E felony. There is a lesser charge of second-degree gaming fraud, a misdemeanor, but the charge rises to a felony under state law if the value of the theft exceeds $1,000.

Hossain pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Buffalo City Court on Tuesday. Torres and Watson are scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 8.

At the time of his arrest, Watson "made full restitution" by paying $5,287.50 to the casino, according to the police report. Hossain made restitution to the casino of $2,210 at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors.

Torres, Watson and Hossain have been permanently banned from Seneca Gaming Corp. properties, according to police reports. 

A spokesperson for Seneca Gaming Corp., which operates the casino, declined to comment for this story.

Cases involving gaming fraud are quite uncommon in New York State: from January 2017 through June of this year, there have been four adults arrested on gaming fraud charges, according to data from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The data only includes cases in which the gaming fraud charge was the most serious charge levied.

Of the four statewide arrests, three were filed as felonies and one a misdemeanor, according to the data.

Additionally, there have been no other arrests on first-degree gaming charges in Erie County going back to at least 2018, according to the District Attorney's Office.

A 2019 case involving charges of second-degree gaming fraud, a misdemeanor, was dismissed and the record sealed, a spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office said.

A man charged with second-degree gaming fraud in 2016 for an incident at Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to a conditional discharge, prosecutors said.

Reach Aaron at abesecker[at]buffnews.com or 716-849-4602.

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