Former Casino Employee Caught Stealing Chips

Casino employees around the world have tried stealing casino chips, and it never works. A now-former employee of The Star Casino in Sydney discovered this the hard way and now awaits his sentence in late February.

The (Failed) Attempt

His name is Justin Ly, and he is 23 years old. When he worked as a casino gaming supervisor at The Star in Sydney, he devised a plan with a 25-year-old casino patron to steal chips.

At 13 different times, the two arranged a scheme in which Ly instructed a dealer to pay his co-conspirator chips that he did not earn. Each time it happened, the payouts were typically between $7,000 and $7,500.

Additional details were not revealed so as not to encourage others to attempt the same type of activity.

In total, the two stole more than $90,000 in chips.

However, during the time the theft was taking place, others reported the suspicious activity to the authorities. The State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad assigned the case to its Casino and Racing Unit, which began investigating in September 2019.

The Arrests

After several months of surveillance, the two men were arrested and charged with 13 counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception. Police deemed the scheme a “professionally-facilitated fraudulent activity.” To put it simply, they were charged with numerous counts of fraud.

New South Wales courts can sentence up to 10 years in prison for such a charge.

Facing Charges in Court

Ly appeared at the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney earlier this month to face his charges. He entered a guilty plea.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” he said in court, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “I’m willing to change as a person.”

The young man blamed addiction for the crimes. “It made me do bad things,” he said, adding that he planned to turn his life around. “You will have the biggest regret of your life,” Ly commented on trying to steal from a casino. “It’s really hard to turn it around. You affect not just yourself, you affect your family, your friends.”

“Lesson learned,” he added.”

Sentencing for Ly is scheduled for February 27.

The other man charged in the crime has not been named, but he did not show up to court for the hearing because “he forgot the matter was listed.”

It Never Ends Well

Earlier in 2019, a former casino dealer at the same casino in Sydney tried to steal a $5,000 chip during a work shift. His plan was not as elaborate.

That unnamed baccarat dealer ran his fingers over the chips in the tray in front of him, then lifted a chip with his pinky and ring fingers from the tray, and he put it under the table and into his sock. He then put his hands back on the table and faced the palms of his hands to the security camera, a move that is required after every touch of the chips to show that there are no chips in their hands.

The security team immediately picked up on the action and fired.

The man, called the Mr. Bean of crooks by security experts, was prosecuted for the attempted theft. His move was so clumsy and obvious that the tape of his crime is now used as a humorous video in dealer and security training.

Surveillance Cameras Always On

Most people in the world know that there are surveillance cameras in casinos. But no one should be more aware of this than the casino employees themselves.

One other piece of information that casino employees learn is that casino chips must be exchanged for cash at the casino from which they are taken. And there are more cameras on cashier cages than in any other part of the casino.

After the Mr. Bean chip incident, The Star decided to upgrade its surveillance even further. The casino had already been considering facial recognition technology but began to implement it after that incident. The entire upgrade of equipment was going to cost approximately $10 million.

Facial recognition security technology is primarily installed to recognize faces from a database of previous offenders like Mr. Bean and now Justin Ly, among many others who go unreported in the media.

Other improvements to The Star’s system included upgraded door alarms, motion sensors, and night vision cameras to catch activities in the dark corners of the casino. All of this was a part of the multi-million-dollar improvement project.

Technology upgrades aside, there are cameras in every corner of the casino – in every casino – and many employees staffed to monitor activity. On a busy weekend at The Star, there are up to 150 people working in surveillance and security. This keeps patrons safe and protects the assets of the casino.


Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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