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Atlantic City casino hopes for quick end to fake-chips probe

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – An Atlantic City casino where someone may have used fake chips at a poker tournament hopes to learn on Saturday whether the suspended games should be allowed to continue.

The first event of the Borgata Winter Poker Open was suspended Friday for 24 hours by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement after suspicions about the games arose.

“The Division of Gaming Enforcement and New Jersey State Police are aware of a situation involving counterfeit chips,” said Lisa Spengler a spokeswoman for the gaming enforcement division. “The matter is currently under investigation.” She declined further comment.

Joe Lupo, senior vice president at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, said more than 50 other tournament events are not affected and will be played as scheduled. He said he expects the investigation to be completed by Saturday at noon.

“The integrity of our games and our operations is of the utmost importance to us,” he told The Associated Press. “We are determined to investigate this incident thoroughly, and will work with law enforcement to prosecute any illegal activity to the fullest extent of the law in the event any findings are discovered.”

Lupo and New Jersey State Police said no one had been arrested or taken into custody as of Friday night. Lupo said the casino regretted “any inconvenience or concern this causes our players.”

“Within the next 24 hours, we believe we will have enough information to determine whether we can resume play, or must take another course of action,” he said.

The event under scrutiny is the tournament’s Big Stack, No Limit Hold `Em event. It began on Tuesday and had a $560 buy-in. There were 27 people remaining in the contest when play was suspended.

Lupo said concerns arose during play Thursday night. The tournament was scheduled to resume at noon on Friday, but he said it was suspended before that could happen. He would not say what raised concerns about the integrity of the game, saying it was part of the ongoing investigation.

The 18-day series of tournaments is a regular feature at the Borgata. The casino’s website said the championship event, which starts Sunday, Jan. 26., would include a $3 million prize guarantee.

The investigation does not involve Internet gambling, which began late last year and which the Borgata has dominated in the early going.

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