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Cheating At Roulette May Be Legal In UK 226

Posted by kdawson
from the wheel-of-fortune dept.
nuke-alwin writes, "A hidden device that appears to give an advantage to roulette players may be legal in the UK when the gambling industry is deregulated next year. The device — which consists of a small digital time recorder, a concealed computer, and a hidden earpiece — uses predictive software to determine where the ball is likely to land. It has been tested by a government lab, which found that 'the advantage can be considerable.' It will be up to casinos to spot people using such devices."
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Cheating At Roulette May Be Legal In UK

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  • Legal... yeah (Score:3, Informative)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gd[ ]aud.net ['arg' in gap]> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @06:10AM (#16123963) Homepage
    just like it will be legal for the Casino to shoot you in the knees... Spot on the subject, every geek should read the Eudaemonic Pie [amazon.com] about besting the Las Vegas roulettes.
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)
      It's the UK, we don't shoot people in the kneecaps here. We put them in concrete bridge piers.
      • Re:Legal... yeah (Score:4, Informative)

        by JonathanBoyd (644397) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @08:39AM (#16124271) Homepage
        It's the UK, we don't shoot people in the kneecaps here. We put them in concrete bridge piers.

        Actually, there's a reason why we have some of the best knee surgeons in the world in Northern Ireland.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by PeterBrett (780946)
          Actually, there's a reason why we have some of the best knee surgeons in the world in Northern Ireland.

          Yes, and it's that the IRA had a peculiar attachment to putting electric masonry drills through people knees.

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @06:14AM (#16123969) Homepage
    If you want to know just what kind of consequences are in store for serious cheaters, even if what they are doing is perfectly legal, see Mezrich's Bringing Down the House [amazon.com] , the story of the MIT students who used card counting to make millions. Even when they wore disguises on repeat visits, the casino still found them out, and hired goons to put the hurt on. So all of you thinking that you'll now become millionaires, think about how hard it would be to hide all this whizbang gadgetry if even simple card-counting doesn't fly at casinos.
    • by jamesh (87723)
      Is there any skill involved in the game of roulette? It seems that the fact that you are winning would be a giveaway that something was going on. You'd have to pretend over and over to be a different person, walking in and placing a couple of bets and getting lucky.

      Casino operators know that gambling is a suckers game and if you come in and start winning you'll stand out a mile away... with obvious consequences.
      • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @07:06AM (#16124081) Homepage Journal
        No there is no skill for roulette, but the payoff for one game can be considerable, many, many times what you can win in blackjack(provided you pick a number, not a color). Therefore you don't need to win nearly as many times to make significant amounts of money without raising lots of suspicion, and you can always go hit up lots of casinos in one night before anyone catches on.
        • by rbarreira (836272)
          Is it true that casinos at Las Vegas some times cooperate with the objective of recognizing and catching cheaters? (as seen on the Las Vegas TV series)
          • by Kierthos (225954) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @08:23AM (#16124239) Homepage
            Yes, they do. And it's not sometimes. It's pretty much all the time, these days. They might be competing with each other for tourist bucks, but they all have a mutual vested interest in not being fleeced themselves. If someone is caught cheating, they are usually arrested for it, not taken out back so a couple of goons named Guido and Nunzio can kneecap them. And if you're arrested for cheating in a casino, your name and picture goes in a wonderful database that is made available to all the major casinos (you know, in addition to, say, a prison sentence), so if they catch you again, they can check and find out that, yes, you've done this before or no, you haven't.

            I believe that if you're convicted of cheating in a Las Vegas casino, and thereby banned, you can be hit with another felony charge for gambling in that, or any other casino in Las Vegas (or possibly across the whole of Nevada), regardless of whether or not you were cheating the second time.
          • by makomk (752139)
            Is it true that casinos at Las Vegas some times cooperate with the objective of recognizing and catching cheaters? (as seen on the Las Vegas TV series)

            Yes, for definitions of "cheaters" including "people who win too often" and "people who know how to beat the house" (see also: card counting)
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Kierthos (225954)
              Depends on how much you win and who you are.

              I mean, if you win 20 hands of blackjack in a row, but don't make more then a couple grand, the casinos aren't likely to care even if you are card counting, because you're winning so little in comparison to what you could be raking in. The mistake a lot of card counters make is going for too much, too quickly.

              Also, you can win a shitload of money if you're famous. No casino wants the rep of "We banned Ben Affleck because he won 500,000 at roulette." Of course, if
        • by julesh (229690)
          you can always go hit up lots of casinos in one night before anyone catches on

          Not in the UK, where the current plans are to only license one big casino per city, AFAIK. You may be able to get two or three in if you hit a particularly dense area.
        • by norton_I (64015)
          Also, in order to win at blackjack, you have to radically change your betting in an obvious way -- basically, bet the minimum most of the time, and raise your bet when the cards in the shoe are in your favor., or repeatedly hit on high numbers or stand on low numbers. You can get around this with collusion (ala the MIT kids), but in roulette it is less obvious that you aren't just playing randomly.

          The part I find most amusing, however, is that both of these instances are really easy for the casino to stop.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rpbird (304450)
        The most revealing comment on Vegas and gambling was in, oddly enough, a Travel Channel special on cheaters in Vegas. They interviewed a casino security consultant, who said straight out: "If you're winning, you're cheating." If you are not cheating, you are going to lose. It's not possible to win. Gambling really, really, really is a sucker's game.
    • On the other hand, this guys/gals [gamblinggates.com] apparently got away without any problem (unless they turn out to appear in a container some time in the future...).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Richthofen80 (412488)
      If you want to read about the real old school roulette cheaters, see the Eudaemonic Pie. Its a book by thomas bass about some real old school 70s hackers who built computers into their shoes to cheat.
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      Was that one of the blackjack teams? I only remember the documentary because one of the guys "went on to found a major CAD company" (according to the documentary - sorry, I'm relying on possibly faulty memory).

      "At least one CAD company ceo I know of was interviewed on-camera about his role in the MIT blackjack team of the early 1990s during a Discovery Channel program. Some of the team members spoke in the shadows with their identities hidden, but he did not." [upfrontezine.com]
    • by rolfwind (528248)
      You are just using a computer to predict the outcome.

      Calling this cheating is like calling card-counting cheating. Something like cardcounting is not cheating, only the casinos label it as such just like the RIAA/Bush labels things as "war on piracy" and "war on terrorism."

      These people are just putting the advantage from the house to themselves. It's not like they are using physically loaded dice or anything. If their minds were fast enough, they might do the same thing w/o a computer.

      I don't get this at
    • once you are in the casino you are on their property and agreeing to play by thier rules. They can just confiscate your chips and ban you for life. If you step onto their property you are then trespassing. All legal and proper, no goons needed.

      Just like counting cards is not illegal, but if you are suspected of doing so they will throw you out. And often circulate your name as a suspected counter to other places who will then ban you as well.

      Once again, all legal and proper, no violence needed.

      I am not sayi
  • by Phil246 (803464) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @06:15AM (#16123970)
    They may be legal but it doesnt mean casinos have to let you in with them, or to allow you to continue playing should you be caught with one.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @07:08AM (#16124088) Homepage
      Precisely.. why should cheating at roulette be a matter of law? If they catch you they can eject you. If they don't.. well that's their problem - nothing the state should be worried about.
      • by renoX (11677)
        I disagree: if you have a contract with someone and you violate the terms of the contract, you can be sued. How is playing at a casino different?
      • by westlake (615356)
        Precisely.. why should cheating at roulette be a matter of law? If they catch you they can eject you. If they don't.. well that's their problem - nothing the state should be worried about.

        Casino gaming and casino revenues are important in tourist centers.

        Once the word gets around that cheats are tolerated, those yens, dollars, francs, and pounds go elsewhere.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Wouldn't it would be easier simply to change the rules at the roulette table so you can't place bets after the ball is in play?
      • by Neoprofin (871029)
        I don't know if you've ever played roulette in Vegas, but cutting out the "impulse betting" phase where hapless addicts are throwing chips away like water because they somehow think they've got it figured out now would cost them far more than the short term losses from the occassional cheater. Short term of course because once they declare you a cheater, or have other reason to believe you couldn't win the money in the first place they tend to put up a real nasty fight when you try to cash out.
    • by owlnation (858981)
      Absolutely, and good luck explaining the legality of your actions to Ron the Bouncer's fist.
  • method (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 17, 2006 @06:36AM (#16124022)
    Actually, casinos have a very simple method to sense if you are cheating: you are winning.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by filou007 (911971)
      This is how the Montreal Keno Cheater was caught in 1994. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal_Casino [wikipedia.org]
    • Well, the real test is that you KEEP winning. All the games favor the house. A few idiots win here and there, but the chances a gambler would consistently win at the same game are slim, especially where the game is one of luck (such as roulette).

      In the incident mentioned in the article, the cheating device was disguised as a cell phone. How can casinos test for this except if a couple keeps winning at roulette, where the chances of winning are 1 in 36? If you win big four times, then the odds of this happen
  • Worth a try (Score:5, Interesting)

    by farker haiku (883529) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @06:40AM (#16124024) Journal
    Clicker: Used to record the speed of the rotor and ball, the data acquisition clicker can be concealed in a pen, a watchstrap, a shoe or even clipped to a molar tooth. The device is clicked as the two entities pass reference points to gauge the deceleration speeds. The data is sent to a remote computer

    Computer: Uses the timings to calculate which number the ball will strike based on an algorithm from data gathered and transmits the information to the earpiece. It is small enough to be hidden in a mobile phone, MP3 player, handbag or cigarette lighter.


    I wasn't actually sold on the idea until I read those two parts.. If I can conceal the clicker in my shoe or watch strap, then I can practice at home until I can do this undetected. I could rest my arm against the table and press on the table slightly until it clicks... just a matter of practice. Same thing for the shoe. If you fidgit from foot to foot regularly, it's a simple matter to press your foot down slightly. As far as a lighter - well I can't see casinos banning any form of vice... they themselves sell vice!
    • The data is sent to a remote computer

      Surely in this day and age it would be easier and less risky to have a PDA in your pocket do the calculations and not broadcast your activities over a wifi/cellular link.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by julesh (229690)
      If you fidgit from foot to foot regularly, it's a simple matter to press your foot down slightly.

      Casinos are aware of this, and will routinely throw out any roulette players who repeatedly shuffle or wobble on their feet.
    • by Gulthek (12570)
      Been done. The Invention of the first wearable computer [gatech.edu] [pdf].

      Also read the Eudaemonic Pie [amazon.com]

      More info from Wikipedia's roulette article (betting strategies and tactics): [wikipedia.org]

      Various attempts have been made by engineers to overcome the house edge through predicting the mechanical performance of the wheel, most notably by Joseph Jagger, the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo in 1873. These schemes work by determining that the ball is more likely to fall at certain numbers. Claude Shannon, a mathematician and comp

  • Casinoes "will" know (Score:5, Informative)

    by eclectro (227083) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @06:55AM (#16124058)
    Companies have sophicticated electronic detection equipment that can detect the hash from your shoe computer. Using a device to 'help' with roulette is thirty years old. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend the book The Eudaemonic Pie. [amazon.com] One of the first shoe computers, using a 6502. This should be in the nerd's top ten books to read.

    Of course, if you used an asynchronous computer there would be no hash to detect....
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Hash? Why would your computer be smoking weed?

      It's not hard to RF shield electronics.. especially when there's that much money involved. I suspect it's fairly easy to get away with but you have to not be greedy.

      Card games are easier since there's a bit of skill involved.. you know what has been dealt so the odds change and you can base your bets on that. No electronics needed, just reasonably math skill, and since it's basic math it's not cheating (unless they mandate that you have part of your brain rem
    • What do you mean, detecting the hash of a computer?
      • What do you mean, detecting the hash of a computer?

        My old 6502 system had a sound card of sorts. All it needed was an AM radio tuned to nothing in particular on the desk beside the machine.

        The 6502 runs at one or two Mhz, just like an AM transmitter and you can almost hear the registers incrementing in the resulting signal.

        • by Gordonjcp (186804)
          And when you get an ear for it, you can actually tell what a given program is doing. I used to code in tight loops which I would call at certain points - that way when execution passed a certain point it would call the "idle loop" routine and I'd get a blip of a certain pitch.

          Even at that, you could actually tell what parts of a program were running from the pitch and tone.
  • Should be easy enough to counter, all the casino needs to do is to place an artificial "drag and accelerator" magnetic or electro powered device on the wheel that varies it's speed every ten seconds or so controlled by a random number generator. This would make any predictive device like this useless as a factor will not be known to the punter or his computer. It would probably cost less than 1000 pounds per wheel too.

    Ah well, there goes my million....

  • by Dr. Zowie (109983) <<gro.tserofed> <ta> <todhsals>> on Sunday September 17, 2006 @09:26AM (#16124395)
    ... influencing the outcome of the game (e.g. with a magnet) is cheating. There's nothing in the rules of Roulette that says "The gamblers shall not attempt to predict when and where the ball lands" -- or, at least, not the last time I checked. Roulette is simply flawed in an era when palm-sized computers are ubiquitous. Similarly, blackjack can be beaten by card-counting, but card-counting is not cheating, it's good memory.

    • by spiritraveller (641174) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:04AM (#16124712)
      but card-counting is not cheating, it's good memory.

      Card counting really has little to do with memory. It simply involves assigning a point value to each card value and keeping count as each new deck is dealt out. As such. the only thing you have to remember is the current count.

      The most useful aspect of card counting is determining your bet size. When there are more tens and aces left in the deck, you have better odds over the dealer (often this becomes an advantage). At this point, you increase the amount of your bet.

      Unfortunately, this does make card counting rather easy to spot, so another aspect of card counting is to determine your playing strategy based on the current count. You then have to memorize charts that tell you what is the best play for a certain combination of cards and a given count. This does involve memorization, but not the kind that most people think of when you mention card counting.

      Card counting has never really been about memorizing exactly which cards have been dealt out of the deck. Very few people would have the ability to do that. Card counting as it is actually practiced is not that hard to do... though it is very hard to master it such that you maintain your advantage AND don't get kicked out of the casino.

      One of the simplest counting systems involves assigning a +1 to all the tens in the deck (tens and face cards), and a -1 to all the 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s. Whenever the count is positive, you have a higher ratio of tens to the lower cards, and thus you probably have an advantage. The more tens, the more likely you get a blackjack, and the more likely the dealer will bust if you don't get a blackjack.
      • by kenj0418 (230916) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @12:31PM (#16125009)
        One of the simplest counting systems involves assigning a +1 to all the tens in the deck (tens and face cards), and a -1 to all the 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s. Whenever the count is positive, you have a higher ratio of tens to the lower cards, and thus you probably have an advantage. The more tens, the more likely you get a blackjack, and the more likely the dealer will bust if you don't get a blackjack.

        You apparently have that backwards. If 8 face cards, and no small cards came up the first hand, that would leave you with a +8, but you would be at a disadvantage since more 10's would out of the deck than the small cards. From looking at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_counting [wikipedia.org] the 10/face cards should be -1, and the low cards +1.

        Ken
        • It's funny, cause I was thinking about how easy it is to mix up the positive and negative when I wrote it... but I still mixed it up.

          Thanks for the correction.
  • This (very old) problem for casinos is entirely analagous to the card-counting situation for blackjack, which we can note has not put any casinos out of business during the 50-odd years it's known to have been around.

    In both cases, there are draconian measures that are effective. To wit: in blackjack, a paranoid casino can simply expel players who make widely varying bets, and forbid new players from starting play except at the start of a new shoe. In roulette, the casino can require bets down before rele

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cochonou (576531)
      As with blackjack, the non-random roulette winner is fairly easy to spot. Placing bets that cover a particular segment of the wheel (the best computers right now can narrow it down to about 5 sequential positions) is a somewhat odd bet. When a pit boss notes someone winning by making a series of "segment" bets, he can simply refuse their action (and of course, take their picture and distribute it to other casinos).

      Why would you have to place your bet on a sequential segment of the wheel ? It would seem t
  • The Wheel (Score:2, Informative)

    by DevilMac (1003373)
    I'm not exactly sure, but from what I've read, it's somewhat obvious that not too many of you that are posting comments really know how the wheels themselves are made. They're not just machined on a lathe anymore. They're made with a laser guided lathe that's completely automated. The bearings are very close to perfect spheres, and the weights and balances are also perfect before they get shipped to the casino's. Yes, there are small imperfections depending on the wood used, quality of the brass used, a
  • The first wearable computer was used for this from 1961 to 1966. When it wasn't bugged, it worked well. The project started at MIT in 1955. I thought there was a link to Bill Gates also, but I can't find that part.

    Here's the paper. [columbia.edu]
  • This isn't the first system invented that can beat the house. Before card counting was invented and described in Edward O'Thorpe's book "Beat the Dealer," he had discovered and capitalized on a couple side-bets with positive expectation he found in Bacarat. The casinos simply eliminated them. When card-counting arrived, casinos introduced multiple decks (which don't eliminate the edge, but does decrease it) and early shuffling. Early shuffling costs them money by decreasing the hands played per hour, bu

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