London Casino Scam



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casino camera scamThis is a BBC news report from Jan 15th, 2007, about a gang that was caught using a sleeve camera to cheat at a London casino. The hidden camera was used to glimpse at the cards, in a hand-dealt game of 3-card poker, as the cards were being dealt. The news report does not get into too many technical details but it does include some of the original footage recovered by the police. Unfortunately, this video clip is badly deteriorated, due to excessive file compression, but it's the only footage that is available.

Many camera scams have been busted over the years. Although there are many variations of camera scams, they all have some things in common. A miniature camera (such as a lipstick camera or a pinhole camera) is strategically positioned to glimpse at the cards, from an angle that cannot be seen by the players, as the cards are being dealt. Some cameras are used to glimpse at the cards are they are being spit out of a ShuffleMaster machine, moments before the dealer actually deals them out. This camera signal is transmitted to a van parked outside, where the video feed is recorded for playback. The video recording is slowed down so that the cards can be identified. Critical information is then transmitted to an accomplice (usually not the person wearing the camera) to place down a few winning bets.

Casino scams in general have one weakness: the players are winning. Casinos know that their games are essentially rigged, so if some players are consistently winning, they must be doing something else other than gambling. once surveillance has their eyes on a few suspect players, they let them play their game while the casino is collecting evidence that will stick in court. When the perpetrators show up at that cage, with the chips, they are likely to encounter a problem.

Camera scams, specifically, have their own set of weaknesses. For one, when such a camera set up is discovered it is hard evidence of a fraud. Also, these cameras have to transmit a wireless signal. Any such signal can be intercepted by anyone else other then the guys in the van. To transmit a signal that is strong enough to reach a van in the parking lot, the system must draw a great deal pf power from a strong battery. Batteries have improved over the years, but strong batteries still require to be relatively large. TO hide all this equipment the perpetrator must be dressed up in a way that may draw attention.

All in all, camera scams may look sophisticated at first glance, but in actuality they are quite primitive and in today's casino environment don't really stand much of a chance to survive for a long time.