Gambling can be a fun and thrilling activity, but it also carries risks. Over the years, casinos around the world have been defrauded of millions of dollars by unscrupulous bettors.
Here are some of the most infamous casino scandals and gambling scandals from recent history.
MIT Blackjack Team
One of the most infamous casino scandals was that of the MIT Blackjack Team. Formed in the 1980s, this group managed to beat the casinos using card counting techniques.
The players on the team were highly disciplined in their methods, and new players had to pass a series of rigorous tests before being accepted onto the squad. They played through eight six-deck shoes with almost perfect results before receiving further training, supervision and check-outs in order to be considered full stakes players.
The MIT Blackjack Team enjoyed great success and made millions of dollars, but ultimately their run came to a halt in 2000 when many members were banned from playing blackjack.
Bellagio Poker Tournament
The Bellagio is a casino and hotel on the Las Vegas Strip that attracts some of the world’s highest rollers. It also boasts an opulent poker room that is renowned for being one of the finest in existence.
The poker room provides a vast selection of games at all stakes levels, including high-limit options. Plus, it’s home to Bobby’s Room – named after 1978 World Series of Poker Champion Bobby Baldwin – an area dedicated to high rollers only.
In addition to its main poker room, Bellagio offers a separate area for middle limit games on an elevated floor separate from the main area. These tables are situated away from the bustle of the main poker area.
The casino also hosts a series of high-stakes tournaments as part of the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, drawing some of the greatest poker players worldwide.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael
Tommy Glenn Carmichael, born in the 1950s at a time when technology was rapidly developing, developed an interest in understanding how things worked. This passion eventually led him to open Ace TV Sales and Service – a small TV repair shop which quickly grew into a successful business enterprise.
But his company soon crumbled under the weight of increased competition. Though initially successful, with more and more stores opening up around him, it became difficult to stay afloat.
He sought a way out of his predicament and that’s when he ran into an old high school friend, Ray Ming.
With that, he revolutionized the casino industry. He started working with casinos and even invented anti-cheating devices to combat cheating.
Unfortunately for him, his luck ran out and he was arrested again with another slot cheating partner. This time, he was found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison.
In the 1990s, Nevada Gaming Control Board employee Ron Harris took advantage of his position to pilfer thousands of dollars from casinos. Together with an accomplice, he programmed keno machines with software that would pay out jackpots when specific coins were inserted into it.
CNN reported that Harris successfully hack 30 slot machines in Las Vegas as part of his scheme. He was able to alter the source code on their EPROM chips, which are erasable programmable read only memory (EPROMs).
He then shared this secret with his accomplices, who took advantage of it and won hundreds of thousands of dollars from Las Vegas casinos between 1993 and 1995. In 1996, however, one of his accomplices tipped off authorities; as a result he received seven years in prison as well as a black book prohibiting him from entering any casino again.