January 17, 2016 - 10:29 am
Mark Thomas Georgantas knows how to beat baccarat, blackjack, craps and roulette in Las Vegas.
He’s producing a documentary about his system. Just fork over a few grand, and he’ll show you how it’s done.
“Once you experience winning with the ‘Biggins Craps System’ you will never look at gaming the same,” he told potential investors. “Talk about living the dream. Where else can you fall out of bed, go downstairs to a table, win, and go to cashier? No employees, no boss, no inventory, no hassle. Pure cash, baby!”
Georgantas, aka Mark Gigantis, aka Mark G, aka Mr. Smooth, persuaded at least two people to hand him more than $350,000, according to a recent indictment.
He name-dropped George Clooney and Matt Damon as clients. He said he had worked for the CIA.
He claimed he attended Princeton University, where he researched spectroscopy, the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation.
Most important, he always walked out of a casino with a profit.
But when the two men inquired about their investments, Georgantas, 53, vanished. The Nevada attorney general’s office filed theft and securities fraud charges, and there’s a $500,000 warrant for his arrest. Attempts to reach Georgantas via phone, email and Facebook were unsuccessful.
Georgantas laid out elaborate proposals and contracts for would-be victims, authorities alleged. Last week, prosecutors presented his detailed scam to a grand jury in Clark County.
Georgantas projected his companies could earn tons of cash. Monster Gaming Entertainment LLC would earn $250 million on a $700,000 investment; Monster Intellectual Holdings LLC would earn $400 million on a $50,000 investment; and Monster Gaming Products LLC would earn $4 billion on a $250,000 investment.
He drew up a list of casinos — in Las Vegas, Laughlin, Mesquite and Primm — where he would gamble for the documentary. He budgeted how much he would risk at each property.
He explained that most gamblers lose because they don’t stay focused; they lack discipline and play intoxicated; or they have an inadequate bankroll and poor money management skills.
He never explained exactly how he won, but he promised that selling his system could make $3.9 billion alone. He could pull in another $400 million with a reality TV show, a movie, books, merchandising and a player for hire. He pointed out a Massachusetts Institute of Technology card-counting team and a successful horse-track handicapper proved gamblers can beat the house.
Georgantas would start by conquering local pits, showcased in the documentary titled “Vengance on Las Vegas” and a reality program called “Living Large in Las Vegas.”
The success would carry him around the world.
He predicted that some casinos might ban him, but that would only result in exposure through a New York Times best-seller, a “blockbuster movie” and “insane media appearances.”
Georgantas is listed as the president of 21 Matrix Inc., according to the Nevada secretary of state, but it’s unclear what that company does. Prosecutors said there’s no system to beat the town that was built on lost bets and no evidence Georgantas even really intended to produce a documentary.
It’s not the first time Georgantas found legal trouble through business ventures. Convicted of a felony in California, the media reported that he once escaped jail through a storm drain.
He was arrested in 2006 in a business fraud case after being found with a briefcase full of stolen credit card information, according to online court records. Authorities said that he used a stolen credit card to make purchases for Fire On Ice Inc., a business he still lists on a LinkedIn profile.
Three years later, he walked away from a trial on credit card fraud charges. He was caught and served time in state prison, court records indicate.
After his release, he moved to Las Vegas and dyed his dark-brown hair blond.
His LinkedIn profile describes a “Creative Hybrid Gaming Enthusiast / Cigar Aficionado / Professional Blackjack, Baccarat, Craps, & Poker Player.”
In 2013, Marcelo Caraveo had just sold his house, and he was looking to invest the money. Through a friend, he met Georgantas, who pitched the documentary and promised lavish profits.
They each signed a contract, and Caraveo handed over about $300,000.
He never saw the money again, according to his grand jury testimony.
Georgantas said his parents died, and he disappeared. Online obituaries show that Georgantas’s father, Clarence Georgantas, died in August 2014, and his mother, Teresa Georgantas, died a year later.
Evan Rodich met Georgantas at a craps table at The Quad, according to grand jury testimony.
Flanked by two men, Georgantas was “playing extravagantly, and he was attracting a lot of attention to himself,” Rodich said.
He asked what was going on.
“He told me that they took their craps very seriously and they always won at the casinos,” Rodich testified. “When he told me about his flaw-proof system of gambling, I wanted to get in on it.”
Georgantas mentioned his plans for a documentary. Rodich asked about Georgantas’ background.
“He claimed that he was an ex-CIA operative, and that if people messed with him, he could do really bad stuff to them,” Rodich told the grand jury.
Eventually, they drew up a contract.
A section in bold type read: “No matter what losses are generated the investor will receive all of his money back.”
Rodich gave $55,000 to Georgantas, who said he would earn $250,000 in 2014.
Not long after, Georgantas said an ex-girlfriend had a death in her family, and he needed to travel to Chicago to assist with funeral arrangements.
Those in gambling circles have been wary of Georgantas for years, suspecting him of being a con man.
When called out in a craps forum, Georgantas responded using the nickname “mrsmooth” and typing in all caps: “Either prove me wrong on the tables or start apologizing now … because every member who plays with me and wins is going to run you out of town!!!!! No one likes liars and scammers … before you call someone a scammer you better be pretty damn sure d**khead.”
— Contact David Ferrara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker