A professional gambler and card counter from New Jersey won nearly $700,000 from a Kansas City casino in the last 13 months but allegedly cashed out his winnings in small chunks to avoid federal reporting requirements, according to a federal complaint announced Friday.
The U.S. attorney charged Richard Dougherty, 52, of Linwood, N.J., with illegally structuring financial transactions. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine.
Dougherty was arrested Thursday at the Ameristar Casino — during one of at least 60 visits he made to the casino since February 2012. He appeared in court Friday and was released on bond.
Federal law requires casinos to file federal transaction reports each time a gambler cashes in or out using $10,000 or more. Multiple transactions in a single day by, or on behalf of, a gambler are supposed to be treated as a single transaction. Structuring financial transactions so that the casino fails to file the required report is illegal.
The criminal complaint alleges Dougherty used cash to buy at least $166,380 in chips in 11 structured transactions at Ameristar, and that he cashed in chips for $315,075 in 32 separate structured transactions from Feb. 16, 2012, to March 27, 2013.
Dougherty did not cash out a single time at Ameristar for more than $10,000, according to court records. In the past, however, he has traveled the country and gambled in many casinos, which filled out 126 of the reports, court records said — indicating he knew about the requirement.
Dougherty is a member of the Tom Hyland Card Counting team, one of the most successful blackjack teams in America, according to federal officials. Playing as a team helps to average wins and losses by members. Members of the longtime team are often recognized at many casinos and have resorted to wearing disguises, but such efforts are not necessary in Missouri because of a state law that prevents casinos from barring card counters.