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Press Release

Professional Gambler Charged with over $481,000 in Illegal Financial Transactions at Ameristar Casino

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a professional gambler from New Jersey has been charged in federal court with illegally structuring financial transactions, including cashing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in chips at a local casino.

Richard Dougherty, 52, of Linwood, N.J., was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., with structuring financial transactions. Dougherty was arrested at the Ameristar Casino in Kansas City, Mo., on the evening of Thursday, March 28, 2013, following the filing of the criminal complaint earlier that day. He appeared in court today and was released on bond.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Dougherty won nearly $700,000 during dozens of visits to Ameristar over the past year. Dougherty is a professional gambler and a member of the Tom Hyland Card Counting team, one of the most successful black jack teams in America. The Hyland Team is most known for their expertise as card counters and passed on their skills to many team members over the years. Hyland team members, both full-time and part-time players, are scattered across the country. The team at one point had grown to 30 or 40 people. Playing as a team rather than an individual helps to smooth over the losses, because if one person has a bad day then it’s usually smoothed out by the wins of teammates.

Because the Hyland team has been counting cards for so long they are recognized at many casinos. The team has used disguises throughout the years at various casinos. However, at present, disguises are less important as there are laws, specifically in Atlantic City and in Missouri, to prevent casinos from barring card counters.

Dougherty is charged with structuring financial transactions at Ameristar in order to avoid federal reporting requirements. Federal law requires casinos to file currency transaction reports with the federal government for each transaction (either cashing in or cashing out) of $10,000 or more. These regulations also require that multiple transactions be treated as a single transaction if they are conducted by, or on behalf of, the same person, and they total more than $10,000 during one business day. It is illegal for an individual to structure financial transactions in such a way that the casino fails to file the required report.

The criminal complaint alleges that Dougherty purchased at least $166,380 in chips with cash 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 made at least 60 visits to Ameristar between Feb. 16, 2012 and March 27, 2013. During this time period, the affidavit says, Dougherty won at least $697,892 and lost $382,880, netting him $315,012 in casino winnings. Not one time during his play at the Ameristar did Dougherty cash out for more than $10,000, according to the affidavit. Dougherty allegedly structured these currency transactions in amounts less than $10,000 to avoid triggering the filing of a currency transaction report.

The affidavit also refers to Dougherty’s gambling activities at casinos in Powhattan, Kan.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Metropolis, Ill.; Elizabeth, Ind.; Valley View, Calif.; West Lake, La.; and Morton, Minn. Dougherty has allegedly used multiple aliases at a large number of the casinos he has played. According to the affidavit, casinos have filed 126 currency transaction reports on Dougherty since 1996.

Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Curt Bohling. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.
Updated January 8, 2015