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Why an Alabama man is banned for life from Mississippi casinos

An Alabama man is a member of a very exclusive club — a club so exclusive it has fewer members than the number of astronauts who have walked on the moon.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission, like its Nevada counterpart, keeps a list of those who have earned a lifetime ban from state-regulated casinos. Those on the list are typically there after being caught attempting to cheat the casino, stealing from other patrons or simply due to a nefarious reputation.

Dennis James McAffee of Haleyville — about 80 miles northwest of Birmingham — is one of the eight people currently on the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s exclusion list, a list of those who have been banned for life since casino gaming began in Mississippi in 1992.

According to the commission website, McAffee, now 74, landed on the list in June 2001 after he was caught “manipulating a gaming device” according to his .

It’s not easy to get on the list. In fact, no one has been added to Mississippi’s list in 20 years. Prasad J. Athota of Helena, Arkansas, was the last addition in January 2004 after gaming officials determined his “notorious or unsavory reputation and continued violations of the Mississippi Gaming Commission Regulations” warranted the lifetime ban.

Somewhat oddly, only one Mississippi resident is on the list. Vincent McFarland of Gulfport was banned in June 2001 because he “has stolen or attempted to steal coin buckets from casino patrons on at least seventeen occasions.”

As to be expected, Nevada’s list is considerably longer — although perhaps not as long as you might expect. There are 37 people currently listed on what Nevada calls its “black book” of those who have been banned for life from Las Vegas casinos.

One of those on the Nevada list, as noted in a report from the , is Shaun Benward of Ocean Springs, Miss., who has been convicted of cheating at roulette in several states, with additional cases still pending.

All of the 45 people on the Mississippi and Nevada lists are men, save for one.

Sandra Kay Vaccaro of Henderson, Nevada, was added to the “black book” in October 1986, along with her husband, John Vaccaro, who was involved in organized crime activities which included robbing casinos, according to the .

John Vaccaro was banned from Nevada casinos after he led a group which rigged slot machines and stole millions from Nevada casinos.

John Vaccaro was removed from the list when he died in 2015, which appears to be about the only way anyone gets off the lists.