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Darwin casino employee steals winning Keno ticket

Tue, Jan 22, 9:58am by Staff Writer

An employee at Darwin’s Sky City casino has pleaded guilty to stealing a $53,000 winning keno ticket and telling the winner of the prize his was worthless.

Michael Tomas, 35, and his brother-in-law Jonathan De Guzman appeared in Darwin Local Court last Friday morning, where they both pleaded guilty to obtaining a benefit for deception.

Prosecutor Naomi Loudon said security vision showed the moment the patron approached Mr Tomas with the winning ticket.

“Mr Tomas handed back four of the five tickets … he then reached beneath the counter and swapped the winning ticket with another one,” she told the court.

The next day, with Mr Tomas waiting in the car park, the court heard Mr De Guzman attended the casino and cashed in the winning ticket.

The winning ticket was worth A$53,353.60.

Casino employees are banned from gambling at Sky City Darwin and playing Keno in the Northern Territory.

Mr Tomas gave the winning ticket to his brother-in-law for this reason.

Mr De Guzman cashed the ticket as his own and received a $40,000 cheque and the remainder of the fraudulent winnings in cash.

A casino employee found the ticket with 36-year-old De Guzman’s license attached.

The staffer remembered selling the ticket to the real winner and recognised De Guzman as his colleague’s brother-in-law.

The court head that Mr Tomas had worked at the casino for 15 years and his actions were a “gross breach of trust”.

Prosecutor Loudon told the court the true winner was repaid his prize when police recovered the funs and never knew he had been conned until Mr Tomas’ colleague informed police.

She went on to say that this was not an opportunistic scheme, but rather one that was well thought out.

“This cannot be described as a spur-of-the-moment type of offence,” she told ABC News.

“The offenders engaged in a number of conscious and deliberate steps [and] that goes to the moral and criminal culpability,” Ms Loudon said.

Most of the fraudulent winnings have been recovered, but prosecutors would be seeking restitution of more than $8,000.

The court heard the employee who originally flagged the issue was reluctant to come forward, because of the close-knit associations of the keno staff.

He was also concerned about repercussions from the Filipino community, to which the accused men belong.

Defence argues no premeditation

Defence lawyer Thelma Gray argued the men did not plan the con at any length.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment decision … [Mr Tomas] knows about the casino process, he knows about the cameras,” Ms Gray said.

Ms Gray said Mr De Guzman had “significant” mental health issues and a psychologists report would be tendered at a later date.

The men are facing seven years imprisonment, with Ms Gray asking the judge to instead consider home detention, as neither men have a criminal history.

The pair were remanded in custody until they return to court for sentencing on February 16.

Sky City Darwin sold to Delaware North

In November 2018, Sky City Entertainment confirmed that it reached an agreement with New York-based Delaware North to sell its casino complex in Darwin for a reported A$188 million.

Delaware North is a major operator of airports, sports stadiums, gaming venues, pubs and food outlets across the globe.

They are best known to Australian residents for their operation of food and hospitality services at capital city airports and at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

The New Zealand-based company has decided to focus its efforts towards strengthening its assets in New Zealand and Adelaide, which have proved more profitable than their venture up north.

Sky City Darwin has 600 poker machines, more than 30 table games, four restaurants, five bars, a day spa and conference spaces.

It is Darwin’s only five-star hotel and resort.

Sky City Darwin is another feather in the cap of Delaware North who recent acquired two Brisbane pubs and gaming venues, The Shafston Hotel and The Aspley Hotel in Brisbane.

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