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Celebrities Banned From Casinos

By Manny Wood.
Fact checked by Wilbur Thompson.

When gamblers venture into the dazzling world of casinos, they’re often eager to test their luck. Little do they know that casinos employ a masterful blend of strategies designed to keep them glued to the tables, whether they’re fortunate or not. The elements of this finely-tuned game include a lack of windows, complimentary beverages to lower inhibitions, meticulous scrutiny of wins and losses, 24/7 video surveillance, and undercover security agents patrolling the premises.

Casinos are temples of fortune where vast fortunes change hands. Owners intend for those riches to remain under their roofs. Most casino games feature an inherent house advantage that can range from a modest 0.5% to a substantial 30%, depending on the game. Cross the line by costing the casino too much, and you might find yourself unwelcome on your next visit.

While getting banned due to excessive winnings is a rarity, it can indeed occur. These gambling establishments are privately owned businesses with the right to refuse service to anyone, even without offering an explanation. In some instances, celebrities have faced the casino’s ban hammer simply because luck favored them at the blackjack table. We’ll delve into the intriguing tales of five famous figures who faced the wrath of casinos for diverse reasons.

Ben Affleck: The Card Counter Extraordinaire

In May 2014, Ben Affleck, the iconic actor, found himself permanently banned from blackjack at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. His offense? Counting cards at a high rollers’ table. In an interview with Details magazine, he confessed to honing his skills in the game and becoming a proficient player. However, casinos frowned upon his newfound prowess, shedding light on the house’s unwavering stance against skilled players.

Dana White: UFC’s CEO Turned Blackjack Pro

Dana White, renowned as the CEO and president of the UFC, also dabbles in high-stakes blackjack in Las Vegas. With rumored winnings of $7 million in a single night, his success at the blackjack table has resulted in several casinos denying him a seat. White revealed that some establishments wouldn’t provide him with the desired limits and betting freedom due to their aversion to losing. His blackjack sanctuary includes Caesars Palace, the Bellagio, and The Venetian.

Derren Brown: Illusionist and Card Magician

Derren Brown, a famous illusionist known for his awe-inspiring card tricks, has faced bans from various UK casinos. His card-counting skills, combined with a YouTube video demonstrating his blackjack triumphs, sealed his fate. In one instance, he was allowed to sit at a blackjack table with friends but forbidden from placing bets, showcasing the lengths casinos will go to keep skilled players at bay.

Allen Iverson: The Disruptive Gambler

Former NBA star Allen Iverson’s ban from Detroit casinos was less about winning and more about his disruptive behavior. He earned the casino’s ire by throwing cards and chips at dealers when luck eluded him. His conduct was disruptive and rude to both players and staff. His infamous act of urinating in a trash can in an Atlantic City casino further solidified his status as an unwelcome guest.

Stu Ungar: The Card-Counting Prodigy

Despite being hailed as the greatest poker player in history, Stu Ungar faced bans from multiple casinos. His prodigious IQ and extraordinary memory rendered him not only an exceptional player but also an adept card counter. By the time of his untimely death in 1998, he was unwelcome at every blackjack table in Las Vegas.

These celebrity stories illustrate the fine line between a casino’s open arms and its iron-fisted rejection, revealing that even the most illustrious figures are not immune to the casinos’ strict rules and measures.