Most gamblers enjoy a little risk, but these naughty scammers took things much further than the old coin on a string trick to try and cheat their way to slots victory.
If you’ve ever fancied gracing the Vegas blacklist, getting yourself barred from every casino going and possibly earning some jail time too, there are some truly scandalous ways to achieve it.
Here are the biggest fails of all time…
1) Electric payouts
In a bid to combat improvements to slot technology that rendered basic scamming techniques useless, infamous gambler Tommy Glenn Carmichael invented a ‘top-bottom joint’ to try and cheat his way to a big win. A handmade contraption fashioned out of a guitar string and a bent metal rod, Carmichael fed the joint through the coin chute of the slot machine to jam it, connecting the metal end of the rod with the receivers inside. By completing the electric circuit within, Carmichael started the internal motor that released endless prize money! Unfortunately, he also earned a five year prison sentence.
2) Faking it
Trickster Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio decided to step up to the gauntlet with a new approach. For him, creating fake coins seemed like the obvious way to beat the system. With no suspicious instruments in hand, his forged, authentic-looking coins passed for real tender in casinos in Connecticut and New Jersey. Awkwardly for Colavecchio, the introduction of optic verification sensors within slot machines soon after thwarted his big idea, leaving him with heaps of worthless, counterfeit cash. Not to mention 7 years behind bars when the FBI caught him!
3) Lights out
A lot can change in five years, but Tommy Carmichael certainly didn’t. Somehow undeterred by his lengthy jail stint on top of newly-evolved computer-based slot games relying on light signals, Carmichael worked hard to construct a new winning weapon of choice. For his next plot, he deserves a little credit. The ‘light wand’ was simple but effective; by inserting a battery-operated light into the slot machine and waiting for a winning spin, Carmichael was able to turn on the light, temporarily blinding the optical sensors to keep the cash coming. Eventually ratted out by his co-conspirators, Carmichael was sentenced to 326 days in prison, with 3 years on probation. Now released, he’s working to produce anti-cheating devices for casinos as opposed to his old hacking tactics. He’s much more switched on these days.
4) Code for success
If you’re working on the inside, how can you lose? Employed by the Nevada Gaming Commission, sneaky software engineer Ronald Dale Harris certainly fancied his chances of success. Programming his own code into more than 30 slot machines, Harris could simply enter a specific coin combination to generate instant wins. Genius, really. Had he kept his secret to himself, he might have gotten away with it. But when his business partner John O’Connor scored the largest Keno jackpot win in the history of New Jersey, landing a whopping $100,000 prize, an investigation was launched and Harris’s tampering was revealed. Rewarded with 7 years in a cell, that wasn’t such a smart move.
5) Winning chips
Tinkering with a computerised slot game he bought, Dennis Nikrasch discovered a way to manipulate the internal chip to give him a jackpot win on demand. Investing in stacks of standard manufactured slot computer chips and recruiting a dedicated team to help set his grand scheme in motion, Nikrasch opened slot machines and replaced the chips with his own, hacked chips completely undetected. His accomplices would then stand by to collect the winnings. Despite being caught out in the end just like the rest of these clever crooks, Nikrasch is arguably the most successful criminal slots mastermind of all, having accumulated over $10 million from big Vegas casinos before the authorities caught a whiff of his dodgy dealings. Not a bad haul at all, but it probably wasn’t being locked up for 12 years.