In the shadowed corners of the Silver State’s glittering casinos, where luck is a commodity and fortune can turn on the flip of a card, there now whispers the tale of Neal Ahmed Hearne – a man whose grasp for ill-gotten gains has spun his story into the realm of Nevada lore. Hearne’s audacious streak of filching fistfuls of chips from distracted gamblers and the plush greens of casino tables has earned him more than just the ire of those he pilfered from; it has secured his name a nomination for eternal infamy in Nevada’s notorious index of dishonor, the “black book.”

Within the hallowed walls of the Mob Museum in Las Vegas lies the artifact that casino wrongdoers fear most: the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s “black book,” a tome of exclusion that speaks of those cast out from the temple of chance. As is the case with the notorious Hearne, whose saga was recounted at a Wednesday gathering of the Board, caught on surveillance at the luxurious Aria, his hands quick to snatch what was not his in January 2018.

The consequences of his capers did not end at mere theft, for the hands of justice weighed his deeds and found them worthy of conviction. Throughout Hearne’s follies, he wove a trifecta of dishonorable distinction, as Senior Deputy Attorney General John Michela laid bare before all. His past was sullied with a felony conviction, a crime of moral turpitude, and a stern judicial decree barring his presence within those hallowed gaming halls.

In a voice tinged with the gravity of their task, Gaming Control Board Chair Kirk Hendrick declared Hearne’s actions not only “brazen” but a latent seed that, if allowed to sprout, could burgeon into menace and peril amidst the noisy expanse of slot machines and roulette wheels. The unanimous voice of the Board rose to nominate him to the list—if their recommendation is echoed by the five-member Nevada Gaming Commission in a forthcoming assembly, Hearne will be etched as the 37th persona non grata in the annals of Nevada’s condemned.

As procedure demands, Hearne will have wind of this unenviable nomination, afforded a chance to stand against the consensus, to plead his case in the forum before the Commission, a legal champion by his side if he so chooses, to parry the charges laid upon him.

The tale echoes last month’s inclusion of Shaun Joseph Benward, the Mississippi illusionist whose sleight-of-hand beguiled not audiences, but the roulette dealers he scammed, earning him the preceding 36th slot in the black book’s bleak registry.

And so turns the wheel of misfortune—for every few years, the guardians of Nevada’s gaming sanctity, the attorney general’s office, sift through this ledger of the living banned, and upon the confirmation of an individual’s departure from this mortal coil, they enact a quiet erasure, a redaction of name and deed, from the list of the living exiled. For where the glitter of Vegas shines eternal, the black book’s shadow looms just as enduringly over those who dare to defy the sanctity of the game.

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Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson, a Senior Editor and respected voice in iGaming and sports, brings over a decade of journalism experience with a focus on digital gaming and cryptocurrency. Starting in sports analysis, he now leads a team of writers, delivering insightful and advanced content in the dynamic world of online gaming. An avid gamer and crypto-enthusiast, Mark's unique perspective enriches his professional analysis. He's also a regular speaker at industry conferences, sharing his views on the future of iGaming and digital finance. Follow his latest articles and insights on social media.


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