A question I get asked all the time is “Are magicians banned from casinos?”
The simple answer is not all magicians are banned from casinos but there are some high profile magicians i.e David Blaine, Chris Angel, Dynamo etc who would obviously not be allowed to play in a Casino. Not from the actual risk of them actually using their sleight of hand skills to game the system but from the actual perceived risk of anything happening.
In most casinos these days everything is very hands off, you never handle the cards in blackjack, you have no control over the roulette wheel, all you are doing is moving chips. So any magician gambling in a casino would not actually get their hands on any cards. Casino security is very tight with many cameras trained on each table with a team of security watching each table for any suspicious activity.
It is more about the perceived risk. If you were at a Blackjack table and a high profile Magician was playing and he started to win, instead of saying luck is in his favour tonight, you would always assume that there is some kind of sleight of hand going on.
Where it would become a problem is if you entered a high stakes card game where cards were handled and shuffled, nobody would enter the game facing a known sleight of hand expert, that is why anyone playing poker or high stakes card games are normally unknown and playing the new guy. Poker is a game of deception and trying to make others believe you are not doing very well.
Working as a London Magician one of the most common things people say to me is “I wouldn’t play cards with him!”
Have I ever been banned from a Casino?
I have never been banned from a Casino mainly because I do not tend to go to them very often and secondly I would not announce myself as a close up magician when I went in!
Where I have been questioned is when performing at an event where they have a fun casino. These are normally a blackjack table and a roulette wheel andeveryone is given some fun money at the beginning of the evening. The winner is the person at the end of the night with the most fun money and they normally win a prize.
Whilst performing at some of these events I have approached the table after my set and the initial reactions from the guests is “Don’t let him play, he’s a magician!”
It is not the real risk but the perceived risk.
So in answer to my original question are magicians banned from casinos, the answer is yes for high profile magicians where it is more about the perceived risk and the reputation of the casino if a known magician was seen to be winning heavily in one of their establishments. Even though you could never prove anything, and there would be nothing to see there would always be the thought in the back of your mind, that he is only winning because he is a magician.
Personally I do like the feeling that people perceive that I have the dexterity and skills to cheat in a casino but in reality this would never happen.
Security is so tight that you could never get away with anything.
Saying all this there are many documented cases of people who do manage to cheat the casinos (not magicians) but very skilled in sleight of hand – the man below has managed to use sleight of hand whilst cheating at a casino.
Cheating Vegas Gambling – Casino Wars – Documentary