Casino Hacking: Is It a Common Occurrence?

man cheating when playing cards

New evidence involving plastic picks and poker machines at Melbourne’s Crown Casino sheds light on instances of hacking in the casino industry.

A new video was posted on YouTube this week by an anonymous individual who claims to be a croupier at the Melbourne Crown Casino, showing a pick depicting the casinos’ logo being used to jam a poker machine’s buttons so game play can continue without interruption. The use of such picks was brought to light earlier in the year, but this is the first time that video footage of the picks has been provided. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie is now in contact with this individual, who is prepared to provide regulators with information on the matter.

The video, taken by a mobile phone, shows a piece of plastic shoved into the play button of the poker machine, which causes the game to spin automatically. Wilkie said: “We have a new whistleblower, new allegations, and even video footage of these picks being used at Crown Casino to, in effect, illegally modify a poker machine.”

The picks are used to reduce the time span between spins to about two seconds. No manual input is needed from the player when the picks are being used. The more picks that a gambler has, the more machines they can set to autoplay, which only increases the chance of losses. An investigation is being called for on the picks because their use can cause serious damage to problem gamblers and their families.

Hacking said to be common

Hacking at casinos is a common occurrence that comes in many forms. In the case of the Crown Casino, a small tool is apparently being used to manipulate machines. In other instances, players may use card counting or other methods to hack a game or machine. Cheating at a casino is also prevalent. Employees of casinos have been known to work with players to try and pull one over on the casino, but such schemes are usually caught during the act or soon afterward.

An example of a hack used during casino game play was seen in the Phil Ivey baccarat case involving the Genting Casino in London. Ivey won $10.1m (£7.6m) while playing baccarat in 2012 but he was never paid. Ivey reportedly used a technique known as edge-sorting during game play, which allowed him to make moves in the game based on how the cards appear. Ivey was able to observe subtle differences in the backs of cards and persuade the dealer to cooperate to maneuver the cards to his advantage.

Ivey was never paid his winnings and, after he sued the casino and the casino sought action against him, the case worked its way up to the UK Supreme court. Last year, the Court ruled that he had cheated while playing baccarat, while others would consider this a form of hacking the game, so to speak. Ivey did not feel as though he was cheating and only used his observations of the marks on the cards and took advantage of the dealer while playing the game.

Examples of cheating

An instance of casino cheating occurred in February in Louisiana. Two men were arrested by the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations Gaming Enforcement Division after an investigation was conducted on a poker game taking place at a casino in Jefferson Parish.

Fox8live reported that Ashley Solomon was a poker dealer for the casino who worked with a player, Dale Foret, to manipulate a Bad Beat Jackpot game. The $166,471 jackpot was won by Foret, but inconsistencies seen during the game spurred an investigation. It was later determined that Solomon had stacked the deck so the outcome would be in Foret’s favor. Both men have been detained and face charges of conspiracy to commit theft and attempted theft.

In April, a casino cheating scam that had taken place in Australia in 2017 involving the Crown Casino Melbourne was in court, with new details being made public. A croupier of the casino and three high-rollers were found to be working together to cheat the casino out of $335,000 (£251,183). Michael Huo was a baccarat dealer at the casino who worked with three women, Fiona Shum, Yixuan Cui, and Ke Wang, to create a scam that would allow the women to earn the cash within 58 hours of game play from March 26 until May 1, 2017.

The Age reported that the scam was not noticed by employees of the casino, but cameras eventually picked up what was going on in the exclusive Mahogany VIP room. An investigation determined that Mr. Huo would look at the first few cards of every shoe and would alert the women as to which card was being dealt. With this information, the women knew how to play their hand.

These are just a few examples of how players have hacked or cheated casinos over the past few years. Many more examples can be found, as players try to use their hacking skills or elaborate cheating plans to earn a few bucks from a local casino. In almost every case, the house wins and players are either left without their winnings or stuck with criminal charges based on their illegal actions.