The birth of the slot machine also gave birth to slot machine cheating. The reason why slot machines have been one of the biggest targets of cheating is that there are no casino employees present when the player is playing, unlike the table games. Another reason is that slot machines have become so popular - now representing 80% of an average casino's revenue - so there are too many machines for the casino's security cameras to be watching all the time.
But cheating a slot machine is very difficult to do. Besides attempting to design the machines to be cheat-proof, the casinos also watch players from the eye in the sky and are adept at spotting players whose actions are suspicious. Modern technology makes it even harder to cheat since the casinos can see the winnings of all the slot machines in real-time and can spot any irregularities.
One of the main targets slot cheaters focused on was the payment mechanism - the machine's process of reading the inserted a coin and giving a corresponding credit to a player. The cheaters' strategy often was to find a way to receive credits from the machine without having to pay any coins. In that regard, the old, mechanical and electro-mechanical machines were a lot easier to cheat than the newer slot machines. The newer slot machines, many of which use bill acceptors instead of coin acceptors, utilize anti-cheating and anti-counterfeiting technologies and are much more difficult to cheat.
An old trick was to insert fake coins into a machine in order to gain credit. In the past, cheaters made millions of dollars with this method, but now it is outdated.
Another old trick cheaters used to use was to attach a string to a coin, known as a "plug", and insert the coin and pull it back out after the slot machine had given credit. These days slot machines are designed to catch these tricks.
Older slot machines had a small switch that needed to be triggered to release a payout. A "slider", or "monkey's paw", was a made of steel and wire and was snaked up into the payout chute to trip the payout switch and make the machine overpay. Slot machine technology negated the advantages of this technique around 1991.
A more primitive version of a monkey's paw is a bent coat hanger. One cheater allegedly won over $200,000 with this method before being caught.
This simple device was made up of a camera battery at one end and a mini light bulb at the other end. It was used to blind the machine's optical coin counter. If you turn on the device near the machine’s light sensor and made it bright enough, you could blind the sensor. Thus, the machine is unable to realize that it is paying out coins. This technique has also become more difficult to execute as slot machines now have more sophisticated methods of keeping track of payouts.
This is where a programmer of a slot machine can code in a "glitch" into the slot machine's software and then later play the machine to take advantage of the glitch. This is a difficult strategy to execute because you would need to be an insider. Ronald Dale Harris, one such insider, was a computer programmer who worked for the Nevada Gaming Control Board in the early 1990s who rigged slot machines to pay out large sums. He was eventually caught after winning thousands of dollars.
All of the roadblocks detailed above are compounded by the fact that casino cheaters face very serious legal consequences in the form of heavy jail time and very high conviction rates. Thankfully for the casinos, few people try to cheat the slots - and, needless to say, I don't even recommend that you try.
HPG ADMIN on February 27, 2013