Slot Machine Cheating Tactics

The hay day of cheating at slots is now behind us. For many years the casinos and an ingenious band of determined cheats were engaged in an ‘arms race’. As fast as new methods were dreamt up to cheat, the casinos would design games to stop them. With the advent of slot games controlled by electronic microchips, the opportunities for cheating also declined.

First of all below, I have covered the mechanical devices used throughout the early history of slot games to cheat with. After that you will find some of the punishments given to those cheats who were caught in the act. Next you’ll find a look at whether today’s electronic slots could be cheated, by either the players or by the casinos.

The History of Slots Cheats

Historically, slots cheating reads like the subject for a comedy movie, with the battle between famous cheats and the casinos going on for decades. The simplest method will be familiar to many people, which was attaching a coin to a piece of wire or string. This would be inserted into the slot and then constantly retrieved, clocking up credits. This sounds laughably simple today, and was easily stopped by building a one-way mechanism into the slot games. Shaving coins was another favorite. This was a balance between making the coins count as having being inserted, and having them also fall into the ‘rejected’ chute.

Some slots cheats developed devices which affected or interfered with the reels themselves. The best known of these was known as the ‘Money Paw’, which was developed by infamous slots cheat Tommy Carmichael. He also developed another mechanical cheating device known as the top bottom joint, which was successful in extracting money from slot games.

Coin dispenser mechanisms were the other target for the gangs of cheats. Devices were constructed to allow these to be jammed in an open position – letting all of the coins drop. This involved various contraptions involving wires and levers. Again, once the casinos figured what was occurring, they were able to put preventative measures in place.

Jail Terms

This form of cheating was illegal. The operators of these devices were effectively stealing money from the casinos. Enforcement when a cheat was caught often involved jail terms. This period of history is littered with cheats who ended up in jail, only to get back to trying to beat the games as soon as they were released. Individuals would also be frequently banned from casinos because of their cheating activity.

Electronic Slots and Cheating

The advent of electronic slots saw many devices involving magnets, which try to keep the reels fixed in place. These were relatively easy to combat, and we have reached the point now where physically cheating on a casino slot would be very difficult indeed.

Some vendors claim to know ‘cheat codes’, or sequences of button presses which will guarantee wins from slot games. They will be only too happy to sell you these secrets for $30 a go, along with the promise that you’ll be a millionaire by this time next week. These sound ‘too good to be true’ and they are exactly that. The only cheating going on is by the sellers, who are taking your money for a system which will never work.

Do the Casinos Cheat?

Many people have alleged that the casinos themselves are cheating. The main conspiracy theory goes along these lines: When you win, a secretive security team alters the payback percentage of the slot to ensure that you’ll lose your money in double quick time.

This is not possible to do, at least without an engineer resetting your machine (and even then there would only be a smaller range of payback percentage adjustments). Even if it were possible, the risks that the casinos would be taking (in the eyes of their own regulators) compared to the reward of winning small amounts of money would make doing anything along these lines way too risky. This particular type of cheating only exists in the mind of conspiracy theorists.

Cheating at Online Slots

With the random number generators controlled by the casinos, the opportunities to cheat with online slots are non-existent. Some people may try to take advantage of free spin offers multiple times, however security systems will detect this very easily. As with the live-slot ‘cheat codes’, if you are offered any ‘fool-proof’ systems for winning at online slots then you should be extremely skeptical. The only person likely to be getting rich from these is the scammer who is selling their ‘secrets’ to you.

All-in-all the days of cheating at slots are now history. The arms-race between cheats and casinos was eventually won, not by making an uncheatable cabinet – but by the takeover of electronic slots from their mechanical predecessors.

Associate Writer: Simon loves to bet on sports as well as play online slots, and he has a keen eye for sorting out the honest sites from the not so honest.