It’s a known fact that criminals will always follow the money. And just like the banks, casinos have always been targeted by criminals looking to make fast money in large quantities. While most of the robberies usually involve some element of force, the nature and atmosphere of the casinos mean that it’s more prone to the sophisticated and well-calculated attacks, with cons and scammers being able to walk into the establishments and pose as typical customers as they plan or execute their attacks. The online casino era has made casino scams more acute. Cons no longer have to visit the casinos physically to carry out their attacks. On the contrary, they execute them from their homes or moving vehicles. Fortunately, the online casino industry has beefed up their security by using state of the art technology, which deters those trying to pull a fast one on them. But this doesn’t stop the scams from trying. Scams and hacks carried out on casinos require scrupulous planning, cleverness and accuracy to pull it off undetected. While some of those running these scams are eventually caught up, the method and means of carrying out these attacks range from the smart to the downright blatant. Below are some of the cheaters who got away and those that got caught. Thanks to some of these people, the industry changed for the good!
The Infamous Roselli Brothers
The infamous Roselli Brothers are the ones to start us off. They are usually considered as the most sophisticated scammers in the casino and gambling industry, and at the peak of their career, they bagged almost $40 million from multiple casinos in the United States – without spending a single penny. How so you are wondering? Well, their cheat was a pretty good one as they took advantage of the loopholes that existed in credit systems of the casinos. They forged the identity of unsuspicious victims, used it to build up credit at the casinos that they targeted, and when the time was ready, they vanished with all the money never to be found or heard of ever again!
To execute this well-calculated method, the Roselli Brothers had to hire a hacker, who would help them hack data and uncover the names of people who had a perfect credit score. This was possible back in the day because of the not so advanced technology that existed. Using the identities and names, they proceeded to open credit accounts across a number of casinos between 1995 and 2000. Once all the accounts were set up, they made a deposit of $50,000 into each one of them, to give the casinos the confidence to extend credit to the player accounts. After that, they played and behaved like any high roller would – spending large and paying their credit in time. This saw all the casinos increase their credit limits significantly. It is estimated that by the year 2000, the dawn of the new millennium, each one of the accounts that they had opened had credit lines worth $1 million each – equivalent to some of the prize value for most of the jackpot slots. Confident that they were ready to go, they visited the Las Vegas strip where they won millions with single bets as large as $100,000. With all the millions in place, they decided to empty all the accounts and vanish into thin air. Remember, they were using fake names and identities of people who actually existed. These innocent people are the ones that were left in hot soup as casinos started pursuing them thinking that they were actually the Roselli Brothers. When the FBI got involved, it turned out that even the real Roselli Brothers had died so many years before, which further made it difficult to track the fraudsters.
Reid McNeal – The Infamous Keno Cheat
On 14 January 1995, Reid McNeal walked into the Bally’s Park Palace Casino Resort in Atlantic City, proceeded straight to the keno desk and purchased 10 keno tickets with eight numbers selected on each card. Take note that on all the eight numbers selected, he hit all of them, defying the astronomical odds of 200,000:1 to win. The resulting payout for this was translated to a whopping $100,000, which at that time was the highest that any casino in Atlantic City had witnessed. But what could have been a huge moment for McNeil, was ruined in the details. As per the casino managers, McNeil didn’t show any form of excitement, had no form of identification and demanded that the casino paid the money in cash! However, according to the New Jersey gambling laws, any win above $35,000 requires that the state gaming division officials verify it, a factor that forced McNeal to wait. A few minutes later, the officials arrived, flanked by two state troopers. Instead of going to the casino where McNeal was, they directly went to his room, where they found a man who identified himself as Ronald Harris. Apparently, this was the same Ronald Harris who was an employee of the Nevada Gambling Control Board – a body responsible for regulating all the gaming devices in the state, including the casino’s machine that generated the tickets. They also found him with an assortment of notes, books, and a computer chip. In the books and notes, he had outlined changes that had been made on Bally machines and scams to beat several other machines. As it turned out, Harris had used his position to gain access to a very sophisticated and confidential code that would allow him to alter the keno’s RNG. Using the code, he successfully duplicated the results, and that’s how he managed to get all the eight numbers correct. Harris was arrested and sentenced to prison.
Dennis Nikrasch – The Locksmith Who Hacked Slot Machines
Before we can look into Dennis Nikrasch story, we must agree first that slot machines are computers, right? This means that they can also be hacked. Well, this is true, but for one to achieve this in the 70s, it meant that this person was very smart and knew so much about computers. There was very little technology to help in the hacking. However, despite the lack of technology, Dennis Nikrasch went ahead and hacked a number of slot machines, in the process making himself more than $6 million in a very smart method. We’ve narrated his story below.
His Humble Beginnings As a Locksmith
For Nikrasch, his thieving career ad tendencies started in Chicago with a small harmless job, which turned him as a locksmith. This new career opened up his eyes, and he saw hundreds of untapped opportunities. For instance, with his new skill, he could break pick almost any kind of lock. In other words, he could break into your home, steal a car, and even pick safes. He got so good at this that his rap sheet got so decorated and he eventually got the attention of the mafias and the big shots in Chicago. What followed next was that he was recruited to commit crimes for the Chicago crime family – crimes that involved breaking into sophisticated safes. However, he was caught and sentenced to jail.
Life As a Slot Machine Thief
After he got out, he decided that he was never going to work for anyone except himself. He, therefore, decided to hit the casinos and to do this, he bought a number of items.
- A slot machine
- A computer chip that regulated the slot machines
- And a key that he bought from the black market. That key could open all sorts of slot machines.
Armed with these three essential tools, he assembled a team that they would walk into different casinos and steal millions. This is how they would do it.
- Step 1: Nikrasch would program the computer chip to trigger the slot machines any time he wanted.
- Step 2: He would walk into the casinos with the chip. His team would block him from all the cameras so that he could open and insert the chip into the machines.
- Step 3: Nikrasch would walk out of the casinos and moments later, a new team would enter and start winning on a free roll.
Things were really going well for the team until greed got the better of Nikrasch. In one big ‘heist’ he decided to go against the 50-50 agreement with the team members and took 70% of the share. One of the team members wasn’t happy with this, and since the FBI was still trying to understand what was going on at the casinos, he decided to turn Nikrasch in exchange for short time in jail. And that is how he ended up being arrested again.
Richard Marcus – Founder of the Savannah
Have you ever heard of the ‘Savannah’ roulette cheat code? Well, in case you’ve ever heard of it and don’t know its origins, be alert as we are about to take you through a little history of how it came about. Richard Marcus will perhaps go down in the history of casino gambling and conning as one of the most successful casino cheats to have ever hit the casinos. This is because, today, despite making millions from casinos through dubious means, he still walks a free man and has never seen the police arrest him or being investigated for the scams committed. In fact, all his dubious activities came into light after he wrote and published ‘The Savannah’ – a book that talks about his time rinsing off casino roulette tables off their money. And with the book, the question ‘How many more people are out there bettering his skills underneath the watchful eyes of the casinos?’ Richard Marcus’s strategy was simple and very straightforward. Every time he was playing roulette at the casinos, he would stack his chips with a high-value chip lying beneath the low-value chip. Playing the drunk act, he would then grab the losing bets and throw the chip at the croupier. While doing so, he would replace the high-value chip for a low-value chip. In the spur of the moment, he would successfully switch out the higher loses for the smaller ones.However, if his number came up, he would leave the chips as they were stacked and tell the dealer that his stack of chips was worth much more than what was seen on top. So you wonder how he managed to escape detection? Well, it’s because most of the casinos tend to focus on bets that their patrons win than the ones that they lose when trying to identify underhand tactics. That’s how Marcus managed to beat the casino with his tricks and schemed off hundreds of thousands of dollars undetected. At the time of writing this ‘Casino Cheat’ article, he works as a consultant, uncovering cheats at various casinos.
For years, women have been at the center of the casino action – be it for entertainment, as a cheat or whatever purpose they serve. Others are used to distract players and dealers, while for others, they are there to commit the cheat itself because they look more ‘innocent’ than their male counterparts. One such character was Ida Summers, who went a step further and played the role of scamming and distracting at the same time. Popularly referred to as the ‘Vegas Vixen’, Ida Summers preferred game was blackjack. She would visit any casino and head straight to a Blackjack table that was dominated by more women than men. At the tables, she had perfected a skill where she would add more cards to the deck by switching out cards that she had come with. By adding more cards to the deck, she shifted the odds of winning in her favour, using what was referred to as ‘cold decks’ to change the probability of the game. However, she wasn’t lucky enough to escape detection and different casinos called in the FBI to help them uncover Idda Summer’s ploy. However, she didn’t serve any time in jail, with most people attributing her good looks and charms as the main reason why some of the casinos dropped charges against her. Ida Summers will conclude our list of casino cheat. It’s really interesting to do a little background research on casino cheats over the year. In fact, there are hundreds of casino cheaters who didn’t make to this list. But obviously, both online and land-based casinos now have different measures put in place to deter these tips and tricks used by the casino cheats. It’s also worth noting that any casino cheat is a felony that will give you prison time, so it’s best not to try indulging in one at all!