Gambler accused of casino cheating pleads not guilty

Archie Karas accused of marking cards at Barona

A gambler known for winning and losing tens of millions of dollars pleaded not guilty to charges Friday in connection with an alleged card-marking scam at the Barona Casino in eastern San Diego County.

Anargyros Karabourniotis, 62, also known as "Archie Karas," was arrested last month at his Las Vegas home and was extradited to San Diego Thursday, according to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.

After his arrest, prosecutors said Karabourniotis was spotted on surveillance cameras marking cards in July by members of the Barona Gaming Commission. They contend that he cheated the casino out of $8,000.

He was charged with winning by fraudulent means, cheating and burglary.

Judge Charles Ervin set bail at $50,000 and scheduled a readiness conference for Oct. 25.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Aguilar told reporters, "He was marking the cards in a subtle but distinguishable manner where if you knew what you were looking for you could see the mark but otherwise it was not readily apparent to people not in the know."

10News asked a Las Vegas gaming and security expert, Jeff Voyles, to illustrate how that works. 

"It's pretty much invisible to the naked eye except for those who have marked it with an identifier. You can use a piece of sandpaper on your finger, you can use a tack glued to your finger, you can use the back of  an earring," said Voyles.

"The charges filed in this case send a message to anyone who might be tempted to cheat casinos in San Diego County," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement. "It's a bet you're going to lose, because law enforcement is watching. We will catch you and hold you accountable."

Between 1992 and 1995, Karabourniotis had a run of luck in which he turned an initial $50 into $40 million by playing poker and dice games, winnings he subsequently gambled away.

The California Department of Justice Bureau of Gambling Control and Nevada Gaming Control Board assisted with the investigation into the Barona case.

Karl Bennison of the Nevada agency said they have investigated Karabourniotis multiple times, and arrested him on four occasions. He described the defendant as a "threat to the gaming industry in many jurisdictions."

The Greek native faces three years behind bars if convicted.


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