Game’s up for casino boss

Pierre Coulon
Pierre Coulon
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A shamed casino boss today spoke of his “embarrassment” after he was convicted of rigging a roulette game to allow a friend to win £500.

Pierre Coulon used a computer to manipulate the electronic roulette wheel at Paris Casino, where he was operations manager, in order to help a female friend win on the numbers she bet.

Coulon – described by his lawyer as a “broken man” – pleaded guilty to stealing £500 from his business partner, John Rees, and the casino on Bloomfield Road.

Speaking after a hearing at Blackpool Magistrates Court yesterday, the Frenchman said: “I am embarrassed.

“Anyone who knows me knows that this is very much out of character.”

The court heard Coulon, a 61-year-old father-of-four, “cracked up” after major disagreements with Mr Rees, chairman and managing director of the casino, and did it to hurt him.

Pam Smith, prosecuting, said staff became suspicious that cheating was taking place during a roulette game on January 30.

Inquiries at the casino showed cameras which should have been targeted on the gaming area had been moved.

Coulon, of Fox Lane, Leyland, who has no previous convictions, was sentenced to carry out 60 hours’ unpaid work for the community and pay £500 compensation to the casino as well as a £60 victims’ surcharge.

He has also been stripped of his licence from the Gambling Commission.

He has been in the casino business for 40 years, beginning his career at Blackpool’s Castle Casino.

In 2004, he and Mr Rees bought the first Paris Casino on Station Road.

The casino burnt down in the fire that ravaged the Grand Hotel on Station Road in 2009.

The court heard the pair were “massively under-insured”.

They later bought the new Paris Casino, which opened on December 30, 2011 - 10 days after its planned opening, delayed after Coulon was hit by a bus on Blackpool’s Promenade.

He suffered a back injury and cuts and bruises, and had to spend weeks in hospital.

By the time the Paris Casino opened, with work still to be done, Coulon was still recuperating in Lourdes, France.

Allan Cobain, defending, said during that time, his business partner made decisions he did not agree with.

He was also coping with a number of his family members who were seriously ill, and his marriage had broken up.

The casino, which boasted a French impressionist theme, opened with four roulette wheels and six card tables.

Mr Cobain said: “He is a broken man.

“His career in the casino business has gone completely. He will never work in that industry again.”

Mr Rees declined to comment.