Vegas Gambler Faces 14 Charges for Casino Chip Scam


In the city where fortunes are gambled, a 54-year-old man was recently ensnared by the law’s long arm. He stands accused of no less than 14 charges, each one tied to a nefarious scheme of fraudulent gambling chips used across a hat-trick of Las Vegas’s shining temples of luck.

The saga began with a certain Gratis Woolen Jr., a name that has since become infamous within the city of sin’s gaming circles. His alleged transgressions span from burglary to possession of unlawful instruments, among others—a litany of malefactions as revealed by KLAS, a local TV station. His actions caused a ripple in the tranquil waters of Las Vegas life, leading to his arrest after an unrelated kerfuffle at a Strip-side motel on April 10.

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The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) had only to run a background check on Woolen to find a warrant out for his arrest, a legal sword of Damocles hanging over his head, all related to his chicanery with the illicit chips.

Thrust before the stern gaze of Clark County’s Judge Melissa Stratton, Woolen was released after depositing a $1,000 bond, his freedom restrained only by the unyielding tether of an electronic monitoring device. His next encounter with the gavel-thumping jurist is set for the coming Thursday.

The roots of this scandal first emerged from the darkness in January 2023, when an eagle-eyed Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino worker sounded the alarm to the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB). An unidentified female player had been seen shuffling a fake chip onto the tabletop, attempting to up the ante with fool’s gold. Meanwhile, another alert employee, this time at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, handed another suspicious $100 chip to the NGCB—Woolen turned out to be the ringleader, the reputed man behind the monetary mischief.

Smoothing over the accusations, it is alleged that Woolen skillfully retrieved his ill-gotten gains from the casino’s cashier’s cage, his felonious chips converted into cold, hard cash.

Upon closer examination, an NGCB investigator detected a telltale sign on the chips — a sticker peeling to reveal a flat black beneath. Not a mark of the Golden Gate gaming property, as it purported to be, but rather a telltale sign of scam—a faux chit masquerading as genuine currency.

All allegations rounded up to one undeniable conclusion – the casino’s chips were counterfeits, their identifying stickers nothing but colorful persiflage. Whereas the real McCoy is a ceramic monolith, counterfeit chips show imperfections, such as “bumps” on their faces, and the inserts are off the mark.

In yet another incident, a cashier at the Linq Hotel + Experience received a dubious chip from the still-unnamed woman and raised an eyebrow at its dubious appearance. A supervisor was called, who coolly apprised the woman to return the chip whence it came: the Golden Gate.

For now, the cloaked origins of these felonious chips remain a mystery. Whether Woolen was the puppet master pulling the strings of this operation or merely procured them from shadowy sources is currently ambiguous in the eyes of the law. This puzzling, unnamed woman, so intrinsically involved, is yet to face charges, her role in this drama brushed under the carpet as details continue to emerge in news reports.