Exclusively Found in the Insider
Viewpoint of Las Vegas
By: Frank Rosenthal
One early afternoon on a hot summer day as I’m
patrolling the casino, I noticed an unlikely duo heading my way. A friend of
mine walking side by side with a notorious slot scammer who was barred from
many casinos on the strip including the Stardust. My first inclination was
to alert security and prepare them for a quick hard way 86.
The friend sensed my mood and increased his pace toward me as the bandit
lagged slightly behind. "Frank, hold it up, this fellow is here to help, all
he’s asking for is a few minutes of your time." "Okay, what’s on your mind."
This particular young man was no ordinary slot thief, he was a member of
the most sophisticated slot crews that cruised the entire state of Nevada,
via their own private Lear Jet, to the tune of several million annually.
They were capable of ripping the slots for huge scores. They worked in
teams, disguised and unobtrusive. That was their game, and they knew it
better than anyone on the inside, including the manufacturers.
Just about any casino was fair game unless they felt that the punishment
didn’t fit the crime. The Stardust had a reputation for dealing its own form
of justice if we could determine that we were up against professional
thieves as opposed to the ordinary player looking for an advantage. Suckers
attempting to beat the casino happens on a regular basis and goes with the
territory! I listened closely as the slot whiz informed me that his luck had
run out. He was nervous and appeared hopeful that I would be willing to
stake him with getaway money to leave the state. He mentioned that his very
life was in jeopardy, he was busted and had a falling out with his gang.
He was asking for $1000.00 for showing me and providing me the necessary
safeguards for the entire casino of slots. He asked me to pick out any slot
of my choice, any row, any bank, denomination didn’t matter. He claimed that
he could empty the "hopper", where they store all the coins until they’re
counted every 24 hours, given 15 seconds without opening the machine.
At first I hesitated, then looked to my friend who said, "Frank, he can
do it." At the time I was the number 3 man in the casino and would need
approval for both the experiment and the reward.
He looked at his watch and politely mentioned that he only had a few
hours left to make a safe departure. I quickly contacted my immediate
supervisor who agreed with me, let’s take a shot, there was no downside. The
4 of us circled the casino as I softly said to Bobby,
"You make the call, which machine is it going to be?" "No Frank, it’s
your call." We gathered in an obscure location of the casino where it was
less likely for customers to be. I pointed to a quarter machine in a bank of
about 20. "It’s all yours. You’ve got 20 seconds." He finished in 15 and the
coins were coming out rapidly.
He nailed the "Jackpot" with 2 short wires. We all looked at each other
in amazement. Pretty cool, we agreed. I had him try one more, same results;
the machine was spitting out coins faster then you might imagine. The
flashing lights were blinking, the hopper was empty. He showed us how it
worked and why. While all slot machines are equipped with anti-cheating
devices, these fellows were one-step ahead of the largest nationwide
manufacturer of slot machines. We walked over to the casino cage, signed a
voucher for 1000 bucks and sent the desperado on his way. He performed quite
well and we kept our end of the agreement.
We notified Bally manufacturing who was located in Chicago and they
quickly dispersed 2 senior technicians, one of which held a PhD in science
and engineering. When they arrived, we showed them exactly what we had
witnessed. It took us about 30 seconds to simulate coins, chimes, bells and
lights firing away without opening the machine nor using a coin. The senior
engineer didn’t seem to be stunned. I recall his comments. "Gentlemen, all
systems can be compromised, we thank you for your help and input." "Just
give us a few days, the machines will be fine."
He was right; all of our machines were refitted with an anti cheating
device for that particular caper. That’s the way it was in the city of sin
not that many years ago. Probably still is!
Stay tuned… next month’s story will have something for everyone, maybe
it will contain information more than some people may want known.