Casino Scams

Casino Scams

What you need to know about casino scams.

There are two types of scams that can happen in casinos:

In the early days of casinos every casino allegedly used to have a, so called, bustout dealer. This would be a card mechanic who would be brought into a game, by the house, to rid a particular customer of his/her bankroll. Today, most security experts agree that this type of cheating no longer takes place in regulated casinos. Although this stands true, one can still encounter any of the other various types of cheating in casinos. In addition, the era of bustout dealers in lesser regulated casinos around the world is far from over.

Most casino cheats do not regard their work as cheating. They think of casinos as a form of legalized thievery that operates under unfair rules and that the only way to win is to step outside the boundaries of what is permissible. In short, they think of the whole casino business as an organized scam that is set up to cheat the players and therefore find it justifiable to take some of the money back by setting up a casino scam operation. This line of thinking by itself makes an interesting debate.

The most cheated casino game is the slot machine (including all kinds of video poker etc). The simplest slot machine scams are done by one person who physically attacks the machine. Most of these scams are now outdated because of the development of slot machines. The most sophisticated scams are done from the inside. Today's slot machines are controlled by a circuit board. The modern slot cheats will find a way to instal a faulty chip. Most of these rigged chips operate on the principle that the player need to perform a series of preprogrammed bets. This betting sequence triggers a winning payoff and the cheat walks out with money.

With the development of the technology cheats have developed high-tech casino scams. One of the latest high-tech scams is a miniature camera hidden on the cheat's person. This camera is hooked up to a microwave transmitter and the signal is transmitted into a van parked outside the casino. The camera is positioned so that it catches a glimpse of the cards as they are being dealt. The operator in the van records the dealing sequence and sends instructions back to the player at the table.

In order to get a good glimpse of the cards the camera is positioned under the eye level of the players. One of the usual places is to hide the camera in one of the buttons of a sleeve of a jacket. This way the camera catches a glimpse of the cards as the fall out of the dealing machine or in single-deck (or double-deck) blackjack, as the cards are dealt off the top of the deck.

Another method is to position a zoom camera under the cheat's wrist. This method allows the cheats to catch a glimpse of the cards as they are dealt out of the shoe.

Although this scam probably developed to cheat casinos it now found its way into private games. The reason for this transition is because casinos have caught up with this scam and it is no longer possible to pull it in a casino where they monitor RF frequency around the clock. In private games, however, this scam still works well for the cheats.

In 1988 I witnessed an internal scam in a casino in Europe. For security purposes I would rather not reveal the name and location of this particular casino. At first sight the scam looked as if one of the pit bosses was sealing chips, for himself, from the roulette table. A closer investigation revealed a slightly different picture.

This is how the scam was operated. The pit boss was seated on a bar stool near at the roulette table. After every spin, on a busy night, the croupier scoops a pile of chips from the layout and pushes the entire pile towards the wheel. A trainee then sorts the chips as the croupier is paying off any of the winning bets.

The pit boss was seated at a bar stool overseeing the game. The trainee would sort the chips into denominations and place the piles into the bank, next to the wheel. While the pit boss was leaning onto the table his right hand ended up above the chips. Out of boredom he developed a habit of rattling the chips and rearranging them into piles (while overseeing the game). At one point he would palm one of the chips off of the top of a pile and swing his arm to scratch his nose. During this gesture he would lean forward so that his entire side of the jacket opened, thus allowing the chip to fly into the jacket. Under normal circumstances the chip would fall on the floor, but in this case it would end up inside a special pocket called the booster bag.

A booster bag is a special bag-like pocket added to the inside of a jacket. The booster bag is an old gaff that was originally developed by shop lifters. The edge of the booster bag is pinned to the pants or shirt (depending on the position of the booster bag), thus ensuring that the bag opens every time the person leans forward. This in turn ensures that the object, which is tossed into the direction of the bag, in fact ends up falling into it.

As mentioned above, at first it looked like the pit boss was sealing the chips for himself. One must ask a logical question. How long would a pit boss last with such an incriminating evidence on his person? Especially under all the security cameras. My further investigation (of course unofficial investigation) revealed a slightly different scam. The pit boss was actually sealing chips for the personnel from upper management. The owners perhaps? With this scam the big bosses were putting money straight into their pockets, without sharing it with the proper authorities.

This particular pit boss was later promoted. I did not get involved.

To continue, this same casino pulled off yet another scam. This scam also came from the upper management and it was yet another very transparent trick (one of the oldest ones in the book), which leads me to believe that some investigators must have been paid off.

It was simply a fake armed robbery. There was only one person working at the cash register, where people buy chips and cash in on their winnings (if any). No bars (can you believe this?) and no armed security near by (can you believe THIS?).

At a convenient time a small gang pulled out weapons and hold up the register. The whole cash register area was built so that you could simply jump over the counter and help yourself, while a caliber 38 would convince the cashier not to be a hero. The robbers filled up their bags with cash and left the building (just like Elvis), and lived happily ever after. At least no bullets were fired and no one was hurt.

The robbery was of course reported but no one was ever apprehended. I would imagine that the monetary loss was later sorted out with the insurance company or at least somehow sorted out as a loss or tax write deduction.

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