December 22, 2023 3 min read


Nevada Blacklists Mississippi Illusionist from Casinos

The banned person allegedly used his illusionist skills to distract dealers in multiple states, scamming casinos out of thousands of dollars

Different states across the US where casino gambling is legal have established exclusion lists. Such lists often include the names of individuals who were found guilty of gambling-related crimes or were involved in other illegal activities. With their name added to the infamous “black books,” those patrons are banned from visiting casinos in a particular state and may face legal action if they breach this prohibition.

It’s no surprise that Nevada, the home of Las Vegas, also has a black book that includes the names of patrons excluded from casino gambling. Following a Thursday meeting, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC), unanimously voted to expand its list by adding another person, increasing the number of excluded individuals to a total of 36 people.

The person who was excluded is Shaun Joseph Benward, a 36-year-old resident from Mississippi who media reports described as an illusionist. His name was added to the state’s black book over allegations of scamming casinos in different states, including Nevada. The unanimous vote for Benward’s exclusion comes after earlier this year, the Commission nominated him for the list. Although the 36-year-old was notified about the Commission’s planned voting for Thursday, he did not appear.

Reportedly, Benward has a long list of convictions or arrests over cheating not only in Nevada but in Iowa, Ohio and New Jersey, among other states. He is also added to the exclusion lists for Missouri, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Delaware, prohibiting him from visiting casinos in those states.

An Unsophisticated Scheme

Michael Somps, senior deputy attorney general at Nevada Attorney General’s Office, explained the scheme which was allegedly used by Benward to scam casinos across the country out of thousands of dollars. The illusionist allegedly distracted roulette dealers by engaging in discussions with them. After that, Benward allegedly would place a wager late in the game and once the roulette ball lands would try to convince the dealer that his chips were placed on a wrong number. To ensure the trustworthiness of his story and pressure the dealer, the illusionist would work in a team with a second person that would confirm his false claim.

It is yet to be confirmed whether Benward is currently in Nevada or another US state. Still, a person that has identical names, the same age, who is also listed as an Ocean Springs, Mississippi resident, is currently on the most wanted list for Lyon County in Iowa. This individual is charged with failure to appear for ongoing criminal conduct, including six counts of gambling cheating, five counts of money laundering and two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony. According to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, the same person is wanted for similar charges in Mississippi, Rhode Island, as well as Pennsylvania.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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