A Look at the NJ Casino Blacklist

List designed to keep mobsters, cheats, security risks out of casino

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Benny Eggs is on the list. So is "Johnny Sausage" Barbato, "Petey Boxcars" Cosoleto and Sammy "The Bull" Gravano.

That's just some of the reputed mobsters. Then there's the accused card cheats, slot machine manipulators and alleged swindlers, thieves and hookers.

In all, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission's "exclusion list" contains the names of 169 people whose reputations, records or behavior make them good bets to be bad influences.

Banned from setting foot on casino property, their names, aliases, rap sheets and backgrounds are memorialized in black books kept on file by casinos under strict orders to eject them.

To casinos and regulators, the exclusion list is a necessary evil, a tool to keep unsavory characters out, honest gamblers in and public confidence - in the integrity of the games - up.

To blacklisted gamblers and critics, the list is a toothless tiger that creates the appearance of vigilance but does little to keep organized crime out.

Established in 1978, the year the first Atlantic City casino began taking bets, the criteria for the list is broader than a mob enforcer's shoulders: It applies to "career or professional offenders," anyone convicted of a crime that carries a prison term of six months or more and anyone whose presence in a New Jersey casino hotel is deemed "inimical" - adverse - to the interests of the state, the casinos, or both.

"It keeps casinos clean," said Thomas Auriemma, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement. "And it instills confidence in the public that we're on the lookout for any organized crime individual that touches our industry, even as a patron."

Not everyone who fits the criteria is put on the list, though. If they were, regulators say, it would number in the thousands and lose its effectiveness as a result.

Benny Eggs was a cinch. Convicted of bookmaking four times, jailed for contempt, identified by organized crime investigators as a captain in the Genovese crime family, Eggs - real name: Venero Frank Mangano - earned his spot on the list in 1987.

Indeed, organized crime affiliations, proven or not, are a key determinant. But regulators also want to know that the person in question has been seen in the casinos, or has some connection to Atlantic City, before putting him or her on the list.

About 60 percent of the blacklisted people are on the list for cheating-related offenses or allegations; the rest are on for affiliation with organized crime. Of the 169, there are five women - four included as alleged cheats, one for a prostitution arrest.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement recommends people for the list and the casino commission then places them on it preliminarily before notifying them by mail, to give them a chance to fight it.

Once placed, they're on for a minimum of five years. Their mug shot, name, address and "miscellaneous information" are kept at the commission's office - in four-inch thick loose-leaf binders - and at all 12 Atlantic City casinos, as well as online at the Division of Gaming Enforcement's Web site.

Anyone who violates an exclusion order is subject to arrest for trespassing; casinos, which are obligated to identify excluded gamblers and hold them for state police once they're in custody, can be fined for not doing so.

At Trump Taj Mahal, copies of the list are kept in four black binders, arranged alphabetically. Surveillance officers are supposed to familiarize themselves with the list and its subjects and keep an eye out for them.

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