If you thought intercepting a slot machine at the factory and tampering with the insides before it hits the casino is tricky, think again.
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Take the case of Ronald Dale Harris. A quiet computer programmer living in Nevada, Harris abused his position at the Nevada Gaming Control Board to hack into slot machines’ source code in the 1990s and make them pay out more often.
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Harris then employed an accomplice, Reid Errol McNeal, to visit casinos in person and fleece the machines for thousands of dollars.
Harris got greedy, however, developing his skills to beat the Keno games in Atlantic City. Both he and McNeal were caught and Harris sent to prison for seven years for fraud.
Dennis Nikrasch went one better, though; he made his own slot machine at home to practice cheating on before hitting the American casinos. Nikrasch embezzled $10 million from video slot machines by buying up slots computer chips (totally legally, apparently), reprogramming them, then fitting them secretly into the backs of machines on the casino floor.
America’s biggest ever slots cheat was caught in 1986 and it turned out he’d been scamming casinos in Las Vegas for years. Nikrasch was jailed for five years, but was caught yet again in 1998 on further charges of cheating.
Fashioning ‘fake coins’ isn’t a new method of cheating, but that didn’t stop Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio, who made his own coins at a private mint in Rhode Island. “The Coin” scammed several casinos in Atlantic City and Connecticut and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from slot machines until he was arrested and sent to prison in 1998.