Marina Bay Sands Incident Unveils Alleged Baccarat Card Counting Syndicate


In a recent legal development, a Malaysian individual has confessed to participating in a scheme aimed at defrauding the Marina Bay Sands casino of a substantial sum totaling S$433,730 (US$315k) through strategic manipulation of baccarat games, purportedly facilitated by a clandestine algorithm and concealed recording devices.

Chai Hee Keong, aged 46, emerged as the third individual implicated in this illicit operation to face conviction. His sentencing to 22 months’ imprisonment, as disclosed by The Straits Times, underscores the gravity of the offense.

The modus operandi of the syndicate featured a female operative, identified under the alias “the Sorcerer,” who engaged in baccarat gameplay within the casino premises. Allegedly, she utilized covert earpiece communication linked to a mobile device, as detailed in court records reviewed by The Straits Times.

Central to their stratagem was a meticulously crafted spreadsheet housing a purportedly proprietary “formula,” purportedly capable of neutralizing the casino’s inherent advantage. However, specifics regarding the formula remain undisclosed within legal documentation.

Referred to by the moniker “the Tank,” Chai Hee Keong’s role within the syndicate entailed executing wagers in accordance with instructions relayed through the Sorcerer, as paraphrased by Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Zhi Jie via The Straits Times.

While the exact mechanics of the operation remain somewhat opaque, indications suggest that Chai may have received subtle cues from the Sorcerer or other accomplices, allowing for strategic gameplay conducive to their illicit objectives. Prosecutors noted Chai’s propensity for high-stakes betting, suggesting a pivotal role in leveraging the alleged advantage.

Chai’s involvement spanned baccarat sessions occurring between December 16 and December 22, 2022, yielding substantial gains for the syndicate amounting to $118,500 over a cumulative duration of 30 hours. In his absence, alternate operatives assumed the “Tank” designation.

Certain experts in gambling strategy have posited theoretical vulnerabilities within 7Up baccarat conducive to exploitation by proficient card counters. Additionally, speculation persists regarding the potential for astute mathematicians to discern subtle irregularities within the casino’s automated card shuffling mechanisms, albeit with conjectural basis.

The syndicate’s activities eventually attracted scrutiny from surveillance personnel, leading to the apprehension of Taiwanese national Hung Jung-Hao within the casino premises on December 24, 2022. Subsequently, fellow associates absconded, abandoning $790K worth of casino chips within their lodging at Marina Bay Sands, before being apprehended in Malaysia and extradited to Singapore.

Notably, one member of the group, Tan Kian Yi, sentenced to a 40-month term in November, divulged recruitment by individuals identified as Wang Yu and Hung Yu-Wen (the Sorcerer) during his time in the Philippines. Allegedly, they touted a system purportedly devised by an enigmatic figure known solely as “Kelvin,” as per court records.

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