In a little over nine months Xiao Lu and her former boyfriend
Zhou Zhao defrauded Hamilton's SkyCity casino of more than
$50,000 with the help of a dodgy dealer and a ruse that
almost went undetected.
Xiao approached SkyCity employee Bo Du who agreed that when
she or Zhou appeared in the casino the dealer would allow the
pair to place bets after the ball had dropped into the
winning number slot on the roulette wheel.
Bo circumvented the electronic cut-off for final bets by
deliberately releasing the ball early - removing the element
of chance and causing the house to lose big.
The dealer pocketed half of the $52,000 in winnings. The
couple carried out the scam between July 2011 and April 2012,
on one night winning six times each on the roulette table and
taking home more than $5000.
So frequent were their visits to the casino that they were
awarded loyalty cards - which would ultimately prove their
Xiao, 28, and Zhou, 32, were found guilty earlier this year
on three counts each of deception and appeared yesterday for
sentencing in the Hamilton District Court.
The court heard how the casino became suspicious after
analysing the pair's loyalty cards, which showed both were
winning "well beyond the game of chance".
"The wins were far too frequent," said Judge Philip Connell.
"It was far too much money and it was that which set the
SkyCity staff on the course investigating."
The casino's surveillance cameras captured Xiao and Zhou
arranging at various times to sit at the roulette table when
there was no one else there with Bo.
Xiao was described as "naive" in her offending by Judge
Connell, who sentenced her to 350 hours of community work
after she paid reparations of $4000 - short of the $13,000
sought by the Crown.
But with no family in New Zealand, no financial means and no
home, deportation was a "more pragmatic" solution.
Zhou, who is a self-employed permanent resident, was
sentenced to five months' home detention after paying SkyCity
the full reparation of $13,000.
The dealer, Bo, 33, was sentenced in January to nine months'
home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $26,000.
Xiao Dong Lu: 28, sentenced to 350 hours of community work
but will be deported to China
SkyCity reparation - $13,000 (paid $4000)
Zhou Zhao: 32, sentenced to five months' home detention
Sky City reparation - $13,000
Bo Du: 33, sentenced in January to nine months' home
SkyCity reparation - $26,000