Roulette Frauds: How con artists fleeced casinos out of millions of dollars

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Where there is money, there will inevitably be people looking to game the system. Bad actors will always be drawn to high-end environments because they understand that there will be easy pickings there. Unfortunately, cheaters, con artists, and con artists have always been attracted to casinos. In particular, roulette has seen some incredibly creative attempts to defeat the house.

No matter how clever they are, these plans fail and get fouled up the majority of the time. Given the innovation used by some of the most high-profile cases of roulette cheats at work, however, even the strictest casino security could not ensure that one or more cheaters have sneaked past the net.

Some contend that compared to other well-known casino games, roulette is harder to cheat at. Nevertheless, con artists of all degrees of expertise have continued to try their luck over time. The following list includes some of the most well-known examples of people attempting to cheat casinos by spinning the roulette wheel.

A Con artist Cigarette Packet

This audacious scam is thought to have cost the casino close to $1 million before the crime was uncovered. At a casino in Deauville, France, the brother of an ambitious con artist worked the roulette tables. He enlisted the assistance of his wife’s brother to execute one of the most intricate roulette scams ever attempted in a real-world casino. The fact that they occurred in the 1970s makes them even more astounding, given the technological limitations of the era.

The original roulette ball was replaced by a replacement ball that has a radio transmitter attached. To turn on the radio, a similar transmitter was placed inside a fake pack of cigarettes. The radio signal was turned on by the con artist, who then spun the ball, stopping it with an accuracy of up to 90% at a predefined spot on the wheel.

Following a gain of about 5 million Francs, the gang was rumbled by the casino manager, who had a crush on the sister-in-law in the group. The fear that they were being deceived led him to investigate his sister-in-casino-law’s visits after she rebuffed his advances. As the investigation into the casino heist advanced, she was found to be a possible participant and the ring was turned over to law enforcement.

A Sleight of Hand

Croupiers should always keep their eyes fixed on the playing surface. That didn’t seem to go so well in one Ohio-based fraud, where it’s possible that as many as 70 con artists were employed, according to the investigators. The conman would approach a busy roulette table and join in, making little wagers to avoid detection and, of course, to limit losses. The croupier is focused on another con artist while Scammer #1 reaches for some chips. These are then distributed to other gang members, usually in the restrooms of the casino where security won’t see them. These so-called “free chips” were later “laundered” by being used to buy more chips, which were later “cashed out” at a higher price.

The roulette table plays no part in this deception, other than being a useful prop. The fraud’s level of success, though, was unparalleled, and casinos are only now starting to comprehend its entire extent. Similar offenses reportedly costing up to $2,000 per hit were carried out in Ohio and additional 18 states in the United States. The degree of harm is still not fully established.