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Spy camera casino swindler jailed 16/01/2007
A casino cheat who used hi-tech spy equipment to win up to £250,000 has been jailed for nine months.

Yau Lam and two others used "complex technical equipment" to target London venues, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Jurors were told how the scam involved "up the sleeve" cameras and virtually invisible earpieces.

Fan Tsang and Bit Wong, who also admitted cheating at the Mint Casino in South Kensington, south-west London, were given nine-month suspended terms.

Police believe Tsang, 41, of Norfolk Place, Paddington, west London, Lam, 45, of Bernhart Close, Edgware, north London, and Wong, 49, of Northway, Swiss Cottage, north-west London, operated at six casinos in London.

All three pleaded guilty to one count of "cheating at play", under the 1846 Gaming Act.

Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said: "Between you, you constructed a sophisticated and audio transmission system" which gave a "virtually foolproof advantage".

"The crime of cheating at play may well be over 150 years old, but, as has been demonstrated in this case, it is still alive and kicking," he said.

The judge also ordered Tsang and Wong to carry out 150 hours' community work and banned them from entering a casino or other gambling club for two years.

Prosecutor Mr Mather told the court that "with the benefit of complex technical equipment" the gang was able to determine whether to place bets or to withdraw from the hand being dealt.

"The use of such equipment is clearly an ill practice, which subverts the whole element of gambling and indeed skill within the game," he said.

Mr Mather explained the cards being dealt were filmed with a tiny camera by Wong.

The images were beamed to a van outside, equipped with video recording equipment and monitors, where Tsang was able to watch the dealing in slow motion.

Instructions were then radioed to Lam at the table, who wore a "small, covert earpiece". Police said the gang is thought to have netted £38,000 in one week and up to £250,000 in total.

But it was their success that lead to their downfall as staff monitoring games at the Mint Casino noticed that Lam was winning consecutive hands.

Lam had lost 10 out of 44 - well above statistical odds. The police were called and all three were arrested at the casino in September 2005.

Detective Inspector Darren Warner said offences of this type were "extremely difficult" to prove. "But they were caught red-handed and it is the only time, as far as I am aware, that people carrying out such a cheat have been arrested red-handed," he said.