The most popular slot machine cheats are nearing extinction, as casinos go to elaborate methods to thwart anyone brazen enough to walk through their doors and attempt to steal. While this article will detail the most well-known methods of getting something for nothing, I’ll also pay equal attention to the consequences of getting caught.
Cheating at Slot Machines
This is a list of the most popular ways to cheat at slots, although most—if not all—of these are no longer effective.
Programming the Machine – Of all the current ways to cheat slots, this is the only method that could reasonably prove effective. The cheater needs to gain access to the machine before it leaves the factory, and then program it to pay out when a specific series of buttons are pushed. Ronald Dale Harris, a former member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board was able to get away with this for two years without getting caught, but his greed finally caught up to him while rigging the outcome of keno. He spent two years in prison.
Coin on a String Cheat – Tie a string to the coin, insert it into the machine, and then pull it back out. This worked in the old days, giving cheaters an unlimited supply of credits. It’s no longer effective, however, and anyone trying it is going to get laughed at by the cops.
Top Bottom Joint Cheat – Created by Tommy Carmichael and Ray Ming, this famed cheating used a piece of spring steel and a guitar wire. The goal was to enter the payout chute with the device until the switch was tripped. The machine would then deposit all its coins, which allowed Carmichael to make $1,000 per hours while on a cheating binge at various casinos. Unfortunately for Carmichael, his luck eventually ran out.
Coat Hanger Cheat – This simple object was snaked inside the machine to interfere with the coin mechanism. It worked for a while, at least until the casinos got wise and countered it.
Shaved Coins Cheat – By shaving the edges of a coin, it would pass right through the slot and still register as a credit. This was effective in the early 1980s, but it was also countered long ago.
The Monkey Paw Cheat – A piece of metal bent into the shape of a claw, the Monkey Paw would be inserted into the machine until it reached the coin counter mechanism. From there, it was simple to make the machine overpay…at least until it was countered by new anti-cheating measures from the slot manufacturers.
The Light Wand Cheat – By shining a bright light into the machine, the player could trick the sensors into paying out large sums of coins. The casinos caught on, though, and techniques were developed to counter it. You should also consider that many modern slots don’t even have hoppers anymore (winnings are printed onto a ticket).
Fake Coins Cheat – By producing fake coins, a cheater can insert them into the machine and play for free. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome is that the cheater will get greedy and eventually wind up in jail. That’s what happened to Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio, a cleaver cheat who minted fake coins and stole over $500,000 from the casinos. He was eventually caught, however, and his tricks cost him seven years in prison.
What Defines Slot Machine Cheating?
The definition of cheating will vary across the globe, but here’s the legal definition of cheating in the state of Nevada:
Alter the elements of chance, method of selection, or criteria which determines: (a) the result of a game (b) the amount of frequency of payment in a game (c) the value of a wagering instrument (d) the value of a wagering credit.”
Even if a person unsuccessfully tried to cheat or just conspired to cheat, they can be detained and arrested under the same law. In Nevada, cheating is illegal at any establishment that offers legal gambling, so the same law that applies to casinos also covers supermarkets, airports, restaurants, and other locations.
How Casinos Catch Slot Machine Cheaters
If the employees of a gambling establishment have reasonable cause to believe that a person is cheating, they are within their legal right to detain them. According to Nevada law, this can only be done “in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time.” If you’re suspected of cheating in Sin City, expect a lengthy chat with Las Vegas Metro’s Financial Crimes Unit, as crimes of this nature fall under their jurisdiction.
Cheating in countries other than the United States may lead to much more severe consequences. I’ve never cheated at a casino in Russia, but something tells me that their security guards might not be as concerned about a lawsuit as their American counterparts.
Back in Nevada, a lawyer will traditionally use one of the following defenses to help their client: (a) police misconduct (b) insufficient evidence (c) the accused didn’t cheat. While mistakes can be made, casinos aren’t in the habit of randomly accusing their patrons of cheating at slot or any other game. If they detain an individual and call the cops, it usually means that they have the security footage to back it up.
Penalty for Cheating at Slots
The law differs from state to state and country to country, but cheating at gambling in Nevada is considered a category B felony. The first offense carries a possible fine of $10,000, and/or between one and six years in the Nevada State Prison. The guilty party will also be expected to pay restitution to the establishment. Probation or a suspension of sentence is a possibility during the first offense.
The same penalties apply during the second or subsequent convictions for cheating. However, this time probation or a suspension of sentence is not an option.
The most popular slot machine cheats are a losing proposition, no matter how skilled the cheater’s technique. Modern casinos are filled with trained individuals who watch for any sign of cheating, and cameras are placed strategically to monitor patrons from every conceivable angle. When you factor in the state-of-the-art slot machines and the potential punishment for getting caught, the conclusion should be clear: cheating just isn’t worth it.