- Over the years, casinos in Las Vegas and beyond have been fleeced for millions of dollars in cheating scandals.
- While some cheats managed to evade casino security for years, most found their way to a jail cell.
- Here are nine scandals that rocked the gambling industry.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
Gambling has long been an activity for hopeful risk-takers willing to test their luck.
But sometimes, deceitful bettors have tried taking luck out of the equation.
Over the years, casinos in Las Vegas and beyond have been fleeced for millions of dollars as crafty criminals found ways to walk away with big winnings they hadn’t lucked into honestly.
While some of them managed to evade the watchful eyes of casino security for years, most found their way to a jail cell. Whether it was counting cards, rigging machinery, sleight of hand, or simply walking out with bags full of cash, many of them walked away with big winnings, yet often paid the price.
Here are nine cheating scandals that have rocked the gambling industry over the years.
Devices like the ‘monkey’s paw’ and the ‘light wand’ helped Tommy Glenn Carmichael rig slot machines and steal millions from casinos.
Charlie Riedel/AP Photo
Over almost two decades, Tommy Glenn Carmichael stole millions of dollars from casinos by devising ways to rig slot machines.
One of his inventions, known as the slider or monkey’s paw, was a wire he would insert through the machine’s payout chute to trip the microswitch, tricking the machine into releasing a jackpot.
As slot machine technology improved, so did Carmichael’s techniques. Using a camera battery and a small light bulb, he invented a "light wand" that could blind a slot machine’s sensor and trick the machine into spitting out coins. According to The Los Angeles Times, Carmichael managed to rake in thousands of dollars a day rigging slot machines.
In 2001, Carmichael was caught by an FBI investigation and served 326 days in prison and three years’ probation. He was also banned from entering casinos.
The infamous MIT Blackjack Team took card-counting to new heights from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
From the 1970s to the 1990s, the MIT Blackjack Team used card-counting techniques to beat casinos and earn millions.
Composed of students and ex-students from MIT, Harvard, and other prominent schools, the group was one of the first blackjack groups to use organized, scientific tactics to beat casinos at their own game.
The group’s ringleader, Bill Kaplan, trained more than 100 blackjack players over the years and supposedly made $10 million for himself and investor at casinos around the world, according to Inc., which described his card-counting as "frowned-upon but legal."
Eventually, casinos caught wind of the elaborate scheme and began barring members of the team from gambling. Although some members continued to play into the 2000s, the team had mostly broken up by 1993. The team’s exploits helped inspire the 2008 movie "21."
In the early ’90s, a software designer for the Nevada Gaming Control Board coded slot machines to pay out huge jackpots to his accomplices.
In the early 1990s, Ron Harris was a software engineer writing anti-cheating software for the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
But secretly, he was coding machines with a hidden software switch that paid out huge jackpots when players inserted coins in a certain sequence.
According to CNN, Harris rigged 30 machines before getting accomplices to play the slots and walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Harris was eventually caught when one of his accomplices was busted trying to rig a game of keno in Atlantic City. Harris pleaded guilty in 1996 to four counts of slot-cheating, according to the Las Vegas Sun, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
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