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Man Arrested For Exploiting Error In Slot Machines

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the where's-nicky-santoro-when-you-need-him? dept.

Crime 611

An anonymous reader writes "A man awaiting trial in Pennsylvania was arrested by Federal agents on Jan. 4, and accused of exploiting a software 'glitch' within slot machines in order to win payouts. The exploit may have allowed the man to obtain more than a million dollars from casinos in Pennsylvania and Nevada, and officials say they are investigating to see if he used the method elsewhere. The accused stated that 'I'm being arrested federally for winning on a slot machine. Let everybody see the surveillance tapes. I pressed buttons on the machine on the casino. That's all I did.' Apparently, slot machine software errors are fairly common. The lesson here seems to be that casinos can deny you a slot machine win any time they wish by claiming software errors, and if you find an error that you can exploit, you may find yourself facing Federal charges for doing so."

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611 comments

double standard (5, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784256)

I suppose the most glaring issue here is the double standard that software errors can be legally taken advantage of by the casinos, while they are illegal to take advantage of by the gambler. (or at least that looks like how the recent verdicts have been swinging)

Re:double standard (1)

Rough3dg3 (1372837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784372)

I'm not sure it's a double standard when you compare software glitches to a professional con. These guys developed a plan, hired another man in an attempt to decrease attention to the fact they were robbing a slot machine.

Re:double standard (5, Interesting)

joaommp (685612) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784436)

Last year I joined (and left) a major manufacturer of slot machines. I was hired as R&D manager and I was absolutely terrified when I saw how things were done. No good software development practices, their concept of version management was dumping source on a network share, the previous manager was the only one using a VCS and was for his private use, and the code was absolutely disappointing to say the least. The bad practices were so deeply marked on them that things were taken to a new facility, with an entire new team that I personally interviewed and trained them from the start, people that still didn't have any of the bad habits the old team had. Eventually I left because whoever was above me was far worse and I soon realized the company was off to die, because top level management were the ones that messed up in the first place and were about to destroy the company by killing all R&D and training and having the new team do sustained engineering on the bad code produced by the old team. This is the state of the gambling industry.

Re:double standard (5, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784480)

Why aren't you telling the gaming commission about this?

Re:double standard (5, Insightful)

CitizenCain (1209428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784702)

And what would he say? It's not like the abysmal state of security on electronic gambling machines is new news, and evidently, no one cares enough to do anything about it. (And why would they when you can just have the feds arrest anyone who profits from flawed code and sieze their assets anyway?) Being stupid isn't a crime, and horrible practices for writing code aren't against gaming commission rules. No, being smart is against the rules and profiting off of crappy code (as a "gambler"/player) is a crime. Three cheers for the land of the free and our awesome justice system. :/

Re:double standard - or...wikileaks? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784816)

if only there were a web site somewhere on the Internet to release information on criminal behavior....

Re:double standard (4, Informative)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784826)

Because the Gaming Commission isn't really interested hear this information. Its like the Diebold voting machines during elections. They were known to be faulty, documented to be faulty and had been warned many times that they are faulty and should never be used because of all the issues and problems that had. And they were used multiple times in multiple voting situations. At the end of the day they are more concerned in who is paying their fee's and not how it effects the public.

Re:double standard (4, Informative)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784466)

Are we really surprised? There are very few games in a casino where the house doesn't have a significant advantage. The house wants you to lose money because their business model depends on it. They only pay out winnings to keep people coming back. The whole gambling industry (including lotteries) is nothing more than a system of wealth redistribution. The rich love casinos (if they own the place) because it makes money for them and the government loves casinos because it means more tax revenue. Everyone else loses.

Re:double standard (4, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784532)

I'd say the most glaring issue is that this article appears right above one about hackers manipulating the stock market. Since we all seem to be gambling, any bets on which "hacker" will see jail time?

Not just a s/w error (4, Informative)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784550)

According to TFA:

The men persuaded casino technicians to alter "soft" options on the machines, such as volume and screen brightness controls.

It appears that their scheme went far beyond exploiting a s/w error in a 'deniable' fashion (Anyone could have pushed that combination of buttons by chance) when they had technicians reconfigure the machines.

IANAL, but one problem in obtaining any sort of criminal conviction is that of proving intent. Had the button combination been pushed with nothing else going on, there could have been some question. But once they solicited help from the casino techs, the jig was up.

Re:Not just a s/w error (3, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784754)

He could argue that he liked that level of brightness and volume, something that is not uncommon among high rollers according to TFA.

Re:double standard (0)

YoshiDan (1834392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784570)

He STOLE and he's being charged with it. Just because there was something wrong with the software in the machine doesn't excuse what he did.

Re:double standard (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784664)

You know, if it were a patent, Slashdotters would be crying about how it's not different because it's "on a computer" but once it's a crime...

Funny, that.

Re:double standard (3, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784688)

YOU'RE going to be paying for his trial and incarceration, because he made use of software errors to profit from a company which profits from other people's gambling. Why? Isn't this the free market at work? If it's a problem, then fix the machines. Or...don't fix them - I don't give a shit how much money you lose from using shitty software. Good luck to him; he may have broken the law, but he's done nothing wrong.

Re:double standard (0, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784836)

He's done nothing wrong? Hmm, what is your street address? You DO realize that your security has a flaw, right? Lock bumping makes it trivially easy for me to break in to your house and take your stuff. Not to mention, I bet you have your windows made of glass. Obviously, you won't mind if I use your security errors to profit from you, right? You do? Isn't this the free market at work? If it's a problem, buy a better lock. If you don't buy a better lock, I'm justified in taking your stuff.

Re:double standard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784794)

Common knowledge: slot machines are there so you can empty your pockets into them and then walk away with nothing.

Anyone using them outside of this intended purpose is going to deeply offend the mafia bosses who run the casinos, which have the cops in their pockets.

This is precisely why legalizing gambling is always an uphill battle.

Technically only double standard if bet forfeit (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784838)

I suppose the most glaring issue here is the double standard that software errors can be legally taken advantage of by the casinos, while they are illegal to take advantage of by the gambler. (or at least that looks like how the recent verdicts have been swinging)

I understand your sentiment but technically the casino is only taking advantage if they keep the bet. If the play is void due to a *genuine* software error and the bet is returned then both sides have been restored to their initial state and no one has been taken advantage of. I understand the psychological let down (trauma ?) of seeing a win flash on the screen only to be told that the play is void but I don't think that counts as taking advantage of the gambler in a technical sense. Of course I am assuming that software errors only generate false wins and that legitimate wins are not somehow lost.

What's next? (3, Insightful)

ErikPeterson (912282) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784278)

Getting sued for picking the winning loto numbers?

Re:What's next? (3, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784346)

If you had some inside knowledge of how the lotto numbers were picked, yes.

They're charging him with fraud. It remains to be shown how he got knowledge of the glitch, and if he merely exploited a pattern he was able to observe, that charge may well not stick. But if he hacked the machines to gain information he wasn't supposed to have, it sounds like fraud to me, whether it was the lotto machine or a slot machine.

Re:What's next? (2)

fruitbane (454488) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784444)

If he hacked a machine he owned or had access to, what does it matter if the manufacturer intended him to be aware of the glitches or not? As far as I know it's not illegal to have insider knowledge unless the law expressly forbids it, and in this case I'm not sure the law does. The glitch in the slot machine software/firmware was certainly not a way the mfg or casino intended for users to interact with their machines, but so what? I think proving fraud may be difficult for federal authorities unless the men had a number of other actions to pursue. Taking advantage of a slot machine glitch alone is, or at least should be, insufficient in and of itself.

Re:What's next? (1)

Elder Entropist (788485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784656)

If he hacked a machine he owned or had access to, what does it matter if the manufacturer intended him to be aware of the glitches or not? As far as I know it's not illegal to have insider knowledge unless the law expressly forbids it

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal.

Re:What's next? (4, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784398)

Well it's a LITTLE more complicated than that... FTFA:

In order to expose the glitch, a special "double-up" feature had to be internally activated. The men persuaded casino technicians to alter "soft" options on the machines, such as volume and screen brightness controls. Such perks aren't unusual for high-rollers, who can wager anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars in one day.

One Meadows employee, who was not criminally charged or accused of wrongdoing, agreed to enable the double-up feature on the machine with the glitch.

Normally, such a feature would allow a player to risk doubling his winnings or potentially losing them all. The double-up feature isn't usually enabled on the machines in part because it's unpopular with most gamblers, who are unwilling to risk large amounts of money.

When the correct sequence of buttons was pushed, the machine displayed false double jackpots. No casino officials noticed because the bogus jackpots weren't being recorded in the machine's internal system.

Throughout April 2009, Mr. Kane frequented Las Vegas casinos, practicing his technique in a "test run," according to authorities, before calling his friend Mr. Nestor in Pennsylvania.

From May 1 to June 15 in 2009, agents said Mr. Nestor joined Mr. Kane in Las Vegas, where the duo allegedly cashed in phony jackpots "over and over again" and perfected a scheme to exploit the same glitch in casinos across the world.

So they noticed a glitch in the system - one that allowed them to get a Jackpot without it being reported or investigated. They then went worldwide with this to get as much money as they could before getting caught.

Now, don't get me wrong, a bug in the system shouldn't be the fault of the player, and definately shouldn't result in Criminal Charges, I'd even say taking back the winnings is a bit harsh though it depends on the scenario (obviously guys exploiting a flaw should give back all the money, a person experiencing the glitch once shouldn't have to give any of it back).

But claiming that they are completely innocent in this scheme sets a bad precedent. Oh, this website didn't secure their Logins for SQL injection, it's not MY fault the series of buttons I pressed resulted in me accessing their database records. Oh, metasploit showed me a new Microsoft zero day exploit, its not MY fault I got admin access to the webserver by simply pressing the correct keys!

TL;DR - Just because the Casino claims that the player won by a glitch doesn't mean the Casino is evil and the player is being ripped off. Yeah, it's not their fault there is a glitch, but if the player repeatedly exploits it instead of reporting it, you have to expect some sort of consequences.

Re:What's next? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784512)

true..

but i'll be honest in that i could care less if casinos lose on an exploit like this. how many lives have they ruined and people they have taken advantage of? just saying.. they don't call it gambling for nothing.. ;)

btw, yea, i suck at gambling..

Re:What's next? (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784558)

Oh yeah - I don't have any sympathy for the Casinos they've always been stealing for as long as they've been around.

But two wrongs don't make a right, stealing from a Casino does not make you a good guy (Despite how much you may like Ocean's 11).

And making these guys sound like victims is more whats bothering me. They clearly played it like Con-men what with getting Casino technicians to alter the machines.

Re:What's next? (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784776)

How have casinos been stealing from people? If you have above a room temperature IQ, you should have some idea that the odds are stacked against you from the very start. Any wins you get will eventually be washed away by losses. And many people know this, and play willingly. Absent casinos hiring people to grab random people, hold them at gunpoint, and take their money, I see no theft.

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784724)

how many lives have they ruined and people they have taken advantage of?

It's not like someone put a gun to their head and made them walk into a casino.

Anyone walking into a casino thinking they will win has already lost, and their life was likely already ruined.

Re:What's next? (2)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784608)

I live in PA, and from what I hear, he had an inside man alter the software so he could hit time after time. The guy isn't innocent. The thing I typically hear people say is,"They shouldn't have taken so much money down at once or they wouldn't have got caught." My line of thinking is you shouldn't be cheating anyone even casinos.

Re:What's next? (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784628)

So they noticed a glitch in the system - one that allowed them to get a Jackpot without it being reported or investigated. They then went worldwide with this to get as much money as they could before getting caught.

Which AFAIK is fraud, plain and simple.

When exactly did Slashdot go from "News For Nerds" to "Emo Whiner Central" ?

Re:What's next? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784674)

Which AFAIK is fraud, plain and simple.

How is that 'fraud'? You press buttons on a slot machine and money comes out... where does the fraud come in?

Re:What's next? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784756)

When you convince Casino Employees to activate certain features just so you can exploit a glitch.

At that point it goes into a very grey shaded area.

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784782)

You press buttons on a slot machine and money comes out... where does the fraud come in?

I came across an ATM that still had an active session...

I found an iPad in the Apple store that was logged into gmail...

I sat down at a library computer and found someone's brokerage account...

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784752)

When exactly did Slashdot go from "News For Nerds" to "Emo Whiner Central" ?

Somewhere around 2003/2004.

Re:What's next? (2)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784658)

The difference being that winning jackpots isn't illegal like the other practices you mention. I've also got a bit of an issue with "false jackpots". I've unfortunately never encountered one, and I'll be damned if I am going to use that term *ever*.

Re:What's next? (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784680)

While I agree with part of what you are saying, on the other hand we should be careful not to reward shitty design by making it criminal to exploit it. I mean look at DMCA where ANY encryption, even something as lame and completely bogus as ROT13 could possibly get you busted for "circumventing" it. Or that guy being sued for accessing the hockey game even though they put it on a server with NO authentication methods that would let anyone that knew or found the IP address to help themselves.

And finally let us not forget this is casinos we are talking about, places where the odds are so badly stacked against the player that if anyone that didn't have the blessing of the state tried to set up a similar gaming operation they would be busted for fraud, and rightly so. The last thing we need is to give them an excuse to not to have to pay out what little they do pay without having to go through a bunch of legal hoops. After all as another poster pointed out that actually worked on slot machine code all the code is shitty so one could argue that ANY significant payout could be attributed to "software glitch" and with piss poor badly managed code that would be a legitimate argument.

The odds are already so badly stacked on most of them games you'd have better odds at 3 Card Monty, so I'm just worried about setting a precedent that gives them even BETTER than the already overwhelming advantage they already have. Hell I'd already argue most of those games are legalized robbery, do we really need to let them slide for not bothering to have decent code written as well?

Re:What's next? (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784690)

Oh, this website didn't secure their Logins for SQL injection, it's not MY fault the series of buttons I pressed resulted in me accessing their database records.

That's absolutely correct and that's how it should be.

There was a fault in the system, the result of incomplete testing by incompetent programmers. That's what happens when you hire the lowest degree of people, instead of paying the wages required by competent people.

Consider this: suppose the fault in the system caused a crash that killed someone [wikipedia.org] . Shouldn't the manufacturer be liable for that damage, caused by a design error? Isn't the manufacturer responsible for the consequences of the design their engineers came up with?

Why should software be exempt from the liability that car manufacturers face?

Re:What's next? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784824)

There was a fault in the system, the result of incomplete testing by incompetent programmers. That's what happens when you hire the lowest degree of people, instead of paying the wages required by competent people.

Virtually all testing is incomplete, especially for simple consumer oriented stuff. And even competent programmers still make errors.

Why should software be exempt from the liability that car manufacturers face?

No one said it should be exempt. But if you buy a bunch of Pinto's KNOWING of the flaw, and then deliberately crash them into things to try and make them explode so that you can sue the manufacturer... why exactly should you be exempt from liability?

lots of news stories of winnings denied, too (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784286)

"oh, geez, I'm sorry, but the back-room monitor says the payout is disallowed, the machine is wrong. please come with us and we'll count the money we need back."

happens often enough. there is a reason the casinos are palaces and the players live in single-wides.

Re:lots of news stories of winnings denied, too (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784350)

It can backfire, however. Gambling is heavily regulated and one of the requirements in some places is that the thing being gambled on must be random. These regulations exist to prevent casinos from having fixed decks for card games or rigged wheels for roulette, but they carry over to other forms of gambling. If you can show that their machine is deterministic, then they may be in trouble. A software glitch that lets you always win may well count, depending on your jurisdiction...

Don't they have to prove intent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784292)

Doesn't the government have to prove intent to defraud? Maybe the guy thought he found a system to beat machines at slots, not defraud anything. What's next? People arrested for rolling casino dice in non-random way?

Re:Don't they have to prove intent? (1)

borcharc (56372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784368)

Our society has long ago dispatched with the concept of mens rea (guilty mind/criminal intent). With federal charges, he will likely never see trial. His assets are likely already frozen so he can't hire an attorney, so he is stuck with the federal defender who have a backroom deal to get you to plea out or let you sit in federal detention until you get the plead guilty today and you go home next week offer, after a year or so.

Re:Don't they have to prove intent? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784376)

People get their winnings denied for counting cards. I don't really understand how that's allowed - not only is it impossible to prove, it also seems like it means that the rules prohibit playing to the best of your ability.

Re:Don't they have to prove intent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784650)

People get their winnings denied for counting cards. I don't really understand how that's allowed - not only is it impossible to prove, it also seems like it means that the rules prohibit playing to the best of your ability.

They get to keep your money instead of having to pay it out. They "prove it" by showing that you wager statistical significantly higher when the odds are in your favour and the only way of knowing that is by counting cards. So it's more a matter of correlation. But what are you going to do (as in you and what army-of-lawyers)?

Re:Don't they have to prove intent? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784668)

Casinos make a lot of money that can go into taxes or pay a lot of higher ups to keep the government out of placing any real rules on how a Casino must operate.

So as it is, the Casino gets to decide the payouts, whats legal for gambling and whats illegal inside their own house. House rules, you know how it goes.

So yeah, it's not allowed because the Casinos don't want it to be allowed. All a Casino has to do to keep you from getting your winnings is claim you cheated, and the Law will pretty much turn a blind eye. Of course, a Casino doesn't want to do that to everyone who wins, otherwise no one would visit the Casino.

So they crack down on the people who KNOW how to win.

Re:Don't they have to prove intent? (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784742)

I did casino security in the 80s. I could never find in actual evidence of that happening. In fact we had a notice from the gaming board that counting card is NOT illegal.

They can refuse business to anywhere.

Re:Don't they have to prove intent? (3, Informative)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784796)

People get their winnings denied for counting cards. I don't really understand how that's allowed - not only is it impossible to prove, it also seems like it means that the rules prohibit playing to the best of your ability.

AFAIK you cannot be denied your winnings for counting cards. They can however refuse to let you play if they believe you are a successful card counter. (They actually like card counting since most people make errors frequently enough that the edge from the counting is lost).

Card Counters cannot be denied their winnings (5, Informative)

gurnec (1011007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784822)

This is a common misconception which the likes of Vegas and Atlantic City would love everyone to continue to believe. There are no jurisdictions in the United States in which card counting (without the use of any devices) is illegal. Additionally, a casino has no right to take back any winnings which were legally obtained. In Nevada, casinos *are* permitted to deny you entrance or ask you to leave if they suspect you may be a card counter. AFAIK, they are also free to share ban lists with other casinos as they see fit. In New Jersey, casinos are not even allowed to go this far. Players may not be denied entrance simply because they are too skilled (see Uston v. Resorts International Hotel, Inc.).

Re:Don't they have to prove intent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784382)

You will already be ejected for rolling the dice funny. The first time you do it you might get by with just a stern correction from the dealer, but if you look like you should know better or if you've already been warned, you will definitely be cut off. Come back after being ejected and you might very well be explaining it to police, and/or a judge.

Re:Don't they have to prove intent? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784430)

>Doesn't the government have to prove intent to defraud?

RTFA. If the government can prove that the defendant knew about the exploit, then they only need to show that he persuaded the casino technician to change the settings so that the exploit would be active. Intent isn't difficult at all; the hard part is proving that the defendant knew what he was doing, which won't be that hard considering he did the same thing in different casinos.

So if it's an exploit... (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784298)

"and if you find an error that you can exploit, you may find yourself facing Federal charges for doing so"

If it's an exploit maybe you shouldn't be doing it.

Re:So if it's an exploit... (2, Insightful)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784420)

Aren't casinos exploiting humans? Isn't this worse?

-Peter

Re:So if it's an exploit... (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784504)

The casinos are helping evolve our race against addictability. In the long run it will be impossible for a Casino to operate profitably, and that will be a good thing for humanity.

Casinos exploit humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784678)

> Aren't casinos exploiting humans? Isn't this worse?

They pay their State taxes; they're fine Corporo-citizens.

Re:So if it's an exploit... (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784424)

How do you define 'exploit'? People playing slot machines often try to see patterns. If a particular sequence lets them win once, they may try it again. If it lets them win every time they play it, then they'll keep using it. How are they supposed to know that the sequence lets them win because of a software error, rather than because of a particular intended behaviour? Or, for that matter, that it always lets the player win, rather than just happening to let them win when they try it because of a coincidence in the state of the machine?

As he said, he just pressed the buttons on the front of the machine. If someone puts up a game machine that pay you money if you hit the buttons in a certain sequence, is it illegal to press the buttons in that sequence? Or is it only illegal to press them in that sequence after a certain number of times?

Re:So if it's an exploit... (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784644)

"and if you find an error that you can exploit, you may find yourself facing Federal charges for doing so"

If it's an exploit maybe you shouldn't be doing it.

Particularly an exploit against an industry with historic ties to the mob.

Idiotic Summary (3, Informative)

donutello (88309) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784308)

The lesson here seems to be that casinos can deny you a slot machine win any time they wish by claiming software errors

This idiotic assertion does not seem to be supported by the facts of the case.

Re:Idiotic Summary (1)

ninja59 (1029474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784344)

Mod Up parent, I don't think the poster RTA

Re:Idiotic Summary (1)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784482)

This particular guy in Pennsylvania sounds like a crook -- but some of the other links look much more questionable. The Ontario one, in particular, looks like a flat-out "Casino just decides not to pay out" incident.

When you're dealing with casinos, in general, you're hardly dealing with paragons of virtue.

Re:Idiotic Summary (5, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784542)

The lesson here seems to be that casinos can deny you a slot machine win any time they wish by claiming software errors

This idiotic assertion does not seem to be supported by the facts of the case.

It's not an idiotic assertion in that it's true in general (all casinos have a clause like "payouts only after verification"), but it is a bit of a non-sequitor.

Basically, anytime the slot machine gives the jackpot, that machine is usually immediately taken offline and wheeled back for verification of the win. Of course, you're not allowed to see this, you only hope they're doing things like comparing the software against the government-escrowed copy (yes, the government maintains a copy of the software) and verifying the settings. Networked jackpots often have to confirm with the network operators in making sure the server actually sent the "win" command to the slot (networked jackpots are determined by the central server when you pull). At any point the casino can simply turn around and say "sorry, it was a glitch" and deny your jackpot. It's happened before.

Re:Idiotic Summary (1)

Tootech (1865028) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784562)

So why balme the Player? Blame the maker of the software for the slot machine and the casino's IT staff for not keeping their machines up to snuff.

Re:Idiotic Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784732)

Ahh, but it does happen. A slot machine with physical reels instead of a video slot can show a win but its internal computer thinks you didn't win. Tie goes to the house. I've seen slot machines increment a reel after they've all stopped, forcing a not-win. Good times, that.

I surmise that the slot machines, or at least progressive (and networked) slot machines, are deterministic to a point. The House knows about when the jackpot will be paid out and where. They're not totally random, and they do want to not pay off several huge jackpots in a short span of time.

So, to be clear... (5, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784330)

casinos exploiting human failings to make millions and millions of dollars is legal. People exploiting casino failings to make millions and millions of dollars is illegal.

The more money you have... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784448)

...the more you can bend the law to exploit others. The trick is getting enough money to do this without getting destroyed in the process by people that already had a lot of money.

Re:The more money you have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784556)

Bend the law?!?

No, no, no, no.

"The Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules."

--Robert Kiyosaki.

You see, we the (little) people, have to live by the rules of the rich and powerful. Sure, we get a bone thrown to us every once in a while, but it's a fake bone. Health Care reform? fucking Insurance companies loaded the deck. Credit Card reforms? Please. the banks loaded the deck so all they have to do is give you a little more notice before they raise your rates to 30% and they have to get your bills to you a little earlier - but they're free to treat you the way they treated you before.

the law is perfectly fair to the powerful.

We, on the other hand, get fucked.

Re:So, to be clear... (2)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784458)

In this case, convincing a technician to change the settings on a slot machine so that you can exploit a flaw, is criminal fraud.
It would be different if the defendant didn't have such an active, intentional role in having the machines altered.

Re:So, to be clear... (5, Insightful)

BondGamer (724662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784506)

If you brought in billions in revenue to the state, you too could have special laws enacted for your benefit.

Re:So, to be clear... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784662)

casinos exploiting human failings to make millions and millions of dollars is legal. People exploiting casino failings to make millions and millions of dollars is illegal.

Notice what people do in casinos is called gambling?

Re:So, to be clear... (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784790)

It was a democratic vote of the people that made gambling legal in their state so don't blame casinos for following a law passed by their citizens.

States collect sinfully large sums of money from taxing alcohol, tobacco, and yes, gambling. Nevada for instance has no personal income tax (partly) due to taxes from gaming. Are you proposing we outlaw these things? Well, people are gonna drink, smoke, and gamble anyway! (Prohibition was a failure. And how's "The War On Drugs" coming along?)

And who are these casinos? Many are public corporations owned by stockholders, including unions and pension funds. BTW: some of the greatest benefactors from legalized gaming are Indian tribes.

I see a fair solution to this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784404)

If the gambler wins, the house voids the play. If the house wins, the player voids it.

As for criminal charges - this is one of those extremely rare cases that screams "jury nullification" from the get-go.

job vacancy for large Pokie company... (3, Interesting)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784406)

i read a job app a few years ago for the dominant "pokie machine" developer in my state. reading the requirements was a bit of an insight into the sort of thing these people do:

- high level mathematical modelling
- statistical analysis
- ability to develop for a statewide networked system ...the house always wins indeed. spread enough bell curves around enough machines and they'll all seem exactly within an arbitrary margin of error while overall they're heavily stacked.

i hope this poor bastard wins his case.

Never works in the little guy's favor (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784428)

When I hit a jackpot in Las Vegas the machine didn't pay out. When I complained about it they said they didn't have any (Ha!) control over it not paying out, must have not tripped something in there, even though I should have been bathed in cash.

Totally fair (2, Informative)

eedlee (1448129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784432)

Casinos can change the odds at will, banks can defraud depositors, and brokerages can make millions per microsecond trading phantom ticks. But don't you dare win at slots bitch!

Insider information (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784452)

To distill the article, those machines have some software options, such as volume, screen brightness, and some game options, such as whether or not a Double-Up feature was enabled.

Somehow the guy knew that if the Double-Up feature was enabled a software flaw would be exposed, whereby a certain sequence of button presses would trigger a jackpot (and the jackpot would not be recorded in the data log).

The machines did not have Double-Up enabled by default, so this guy would ask casino techs to mess with settings, like the volume and brightness. While they were changing those settings he also asked to have the Double-Up enabled, thus "enabling" the bug.

So the glaring question is how did this guy know about the "correct sequence of buttons" and the fact that it specifically had to be enabled via the Double-Up feature? To me this reeks of a developer slipping in a "glitch" to trigger a jackpot at will, and it was hidden with that Double-Up feature which they knew was disabled by default to keep the sequence from accidentally being discovered (or found via auditing).

The real criminal is the insider that passed this info along, and presumably maintained anonymity and safety while his patsy actually went around and harvested the winnings, which I'm sure the software developer would receive a share of.

Re:Insider information (1)

emanem (1356033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784594)

A bit like the other bigger casinos which hold all our money...if you know what I mean!
Really sad,
Cheers,

Re:Insider information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784700)

I think you've cracked the case! Solid detective work there sir!

Audit the Casinos (5, Insightful)

tsnorquist (1058924) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784492)

So can gamblers audit the casinos to ensure all the times they lost were not due to a "glitch"?

Are you kidding me? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784508)

Boy, this slashdot posting really has misrepresented the actual article. This isn't some guy that accidentally won a couple of big amounts because of a software glitch. This is a guy that knew about the glitch and then went out of his way to use it in multiple casinos in order to win lots of money. He even had to talk employees into effectively "turning on" the glitch. Very bad for slashdot to post this the way it was.

Re:Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784600)

Boy, isn't he a criminal.

Kinda like my tax lawyer, who knows a few glitches (aka loopholes) in the tax code and helps me save hundreds of thousands every year.

He had even talked to tax collectors at one time to make them see his way of filing my taxes, effectively having them "turn on" the loophole.

He went out of his way to use the tax returns of all his customers to perpetrate this fraud and win them lots of money.

Very bad this thing is possible at all, he should go to jail.

Re:Are you kidding me? (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784810)

And you conclude this from the article? I think that the article is idiotically biased, not Slashdot. Notice also how they even enlist the help of his former friends to go out of the way of making him an example. If there is anything evil going on, it is the state and casino's conspiring against one of their citizens. Even if he's guilty of anything, their behavior is way worse than his.

Malfunction voids all plays and pays (4, Informative)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784534)

I'm looking at a slot machine right now and I see this notice: "MALFUNCTION VOIDS ALL PLAYS AND PAYS". Period. It doesn't matter whether that malfunction happens internally or externally.

Gaming is heavily regulated by a state gaming control board and the slots machines themselves have incredibly robust state machines (including power-hit tolerance), tamper resistance, history logs (games played; events; system errors; etc.), and must be certified by a state gaming control board (and possibly a third party lab such as GLI).

Disputes naturally arise and there is a state gaming board approved method for dealing with them. If the player is still unsatisfied he is free to seek a civil action in a court of law.

They cheated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34784596)

While we can all claim that the casinos are wrong here, the perps cheated. It doesn't matter if the game's code is flawed, taking advantage of that flaw is cheating. Keeping the games as fair as the law allows is all the casinos have to do. There's no recourse for the gamblers.

Gambling devices must be transparent (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784696)

Any gambling device that isn't well-understood by the gambler isn't a true game of chance.

I trust a roulette wheel because the laws of physics in the casino are well-enough understood that I trust the laws of physics to produce a random outcome that is statistically predictable over the long run. This means either open-source and open-blueprint systems or systems that have had LOTS of independent eyeballs examine the code under a "limited NDA" which protects the designer while encouraging the reporting of faulty designs or implementations.

For electronic devices I have to be able to trust the random number generator AND all non-random elements of the machine. I also have to trust that cosmic rays hitting a chip and other non-designed-in elements of the machine influence the outcome either in a statistically predictable way or their influence is so small that both the house and the gambler are willing to either accept the outcome in the face of cosmic rays or are willing to trust an independent third party to void the bet when a cosmic ray interaction is detected.

Few if any proprietary gambling systems meet this criteria.

Games You Can't Win. (4, Interesting)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784710)

I like seeing stories like this. Maybe if we have enough of 'em, people will realize that gambling when the house has a stake is a sucker's game.

There's an anecdote in the book "Games You Can't Lose" by Harry Anderson (who played the judge in Night Court, and is a longtime stage magician and collector of cons and swindles). To paraphrase:

One day on a whim, this guy places a bet at a sidewalk Three Card Monte game and of course he loses. So he starts watching carefully how the game is played. And he notices how the dealer ignores bets that are placed on the right card when someone else bets on the wrong one, and how a Monte game always has a bunch of shills around who will helpfully make the wrong bet in case none of the marks do.

So the guy comes back the next day, and when the dealer calls for bets, the guy pulls out a staple gun and staples his dollar to the Queen. Bam! The first guy to ever win at Three Card Monte.

And he pocketed his winnings, after the nurse at the emergency room un-stapled them from his forehead.

Not about him winning (3, Insightful)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#34784778)

In order to expose the glitch, a special "double-up" feature had to be internally activated. The men persuaded casino technicians to alter "soft" options on the machines, such as volume and screen brightness controls. Such perks aren't unusual for high-rollers

This wasn't about hitting buttons, they were using social engineering to enable a flaw that became exploitable. This is no different than screwing someone at a cash register by confusing them on the amount of change they're supposed to give you, an age-old grift.

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