Back in September we reported how two casino scammers, William Cushing and Michael McNeive had been added to the notorious Nevada Black Book. The Black Book was first discussed in the 1950’s when Las Vegas and Nevada casinos were being investigated due to their alleged relationships with mobsters.
In an effort to regain law and order, and promote an image of Nevada being a transparent gambling capital, officials created the Nevada Gaming Commission. One of the major breakthroughs of this new regulatory body was the launch of the Black Book, which contains a list of persons who should be excluded from casinos and all gambling establishments at all costs. By excluding those who were included in the Black Book, the Gaming Commission believed they’d be able regain the trust and confidence of the general public, who had begun to doubt the transparency of Las Vegas casinos. While the term “Black Book” has come to represent all forms of gambling related bans, the list gets its name from the first edition of the publication, which featured a black cover.
The list of excluded persons has included the likes of Frank “Lefty Rosenthal” (whom Robert De Niro’s character in Casino is based on), as well as various casino scammers and cheats. As any of the 35 people currently in the Black Book will tell you, once your name is included, you may as well consider yourself banned from Nevada casinos for life, as the only way your name can be removed from the Black Book is if you either die (Rosenthal’s name was removed in 2008, after he died of a heart attack) or if the Nevada Gaming Commission overturns the ruling. Memorable additions to the Black Book include:
Michael Joseph Balsamo
Just over a decade ago the Gaming Commission added Michael Joseph Balsamo, who has six convictions for cheating slots. Balsamo’s career as a slots cheat began back in 1979, when he was aged just 20. In 1984 he was placed on New Jersey’s list of excluded persons, but it took the Nevada Gaming Commission another fifteen years to add him to the Black Book.
Michael James McNeive
The Nevada Gaming Commission approved Michael McNeive as an addition to the Black Book in August, after he was caught attempting to use “cheating devices” on a variety of slot machines. It’s believed McNeive targeted a variety of gambling establishments, including Harrah’s Casino in 2001 and a Las Vegas drugstore’s slot machine in 2003.
Ronald Dale Harris
Ronald Dale Harris is perhaps one of the most interesting people in the Black Book. Before being caught for scamming a keno machine out of $100,000 in 1995, Harris was a 12 year employee of the State Gaming Control Board. As an employee of the Board, Harris was in control of evaluating game devices. Little is known about why he chose to scam the machines, but presumably the temptation was too much for him. Harris was added to the Black Book in 1997.
John Joseph Vaccaro and Sandra Kay Vaccaro
John Joseph and Sandra Kay Vaccaro are the only husband and wife team in the Nevada Black Book. Both were added to the list of excluded persons in 1986, after it was revealed that John Vaccaro had been the mastermind of “a sophisticated slot cheating ring which stole millions of dollars from Nevada casinos”. Sandra Vaccaro was also part of the ring and John was later identified as a member of the “Southern California organized crime family”. Mr. Vaccaro is currently serving a prison sentence in Mississippi relating to another gambling offence.
If you’d like to learn more about Nevada’s Black Book, then make sure to visit this section of the Nevada Gaming Commission website. Here you’ll find a list of excluded persons, as well as information about why they were excluded.