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The Courts Bug The Almighty Buck

Video Poker Firmware Bug Yields Big Money, Federal Charges 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the sounds-like-a-feature-to-me dept.
JoeyRox writes "Over the course of playing $12 million worth of video poker, Las Vegas resident John Kane stumbled onto a firmware bug in IGT's 'Game King' machines that allowed him to cash out for 10x the amount of his winnings. John and his friends took advantage of the vulnerability to the tune of $429,945. John's friend was arrested by U.S. marshals and charged with violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but a federal magistrate ruled that the law doesn't apply and recommended dismissal. The case is currently being argued in a U.S. District Court."
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Video Poker Firmware Bug Yields Big Money, Federal Charges

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  • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:50PM (#43603999)
    There was a case like this in the UK a few years ago. A family discovered that a particular cash machine was systematically giving out double the amount you had withdrawn. They repeatedly withdrew money using this machine. They were reported, and convicted of fraud. I doubt it would have happened with one-off visitors. If you ONCE visit a cash machine that gives you £200 and deducts from your account the £100 you intended to withdraw, then you've got lucky: you can't have known it would do that. But repeatedly visiting a machine that is misprogrammed to act in your favour, when you know that that is not how it is intended to function, is something quite different. That clearly amounts to fraud.
  • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:58PM (#43604091)
    From TFA: Kane began by selecting a game, like Triple Double Bonus Poker, and playing it at the lowest denomination the machine allows, like the $1.00 level. He kept playing, until he won a high payout, like the $820 at the Silverton.

    Then he’d immediately switch to a different game variation, like straight “Draw Poker.” He’d play Draw Poker until he scored a win of any amount at all. The point of this play was to get the machine to offer a “double-up”, which lets the player put his winnings up to simple high-card-wins draw. Through whatever twist of code caused the bug, the appearance of the double-up invitation was critical. Machines that didn’t have the option enabled were immune.

    At that point Kane would put more cash, or a voucher, into the machine, then exit the Draw Poker game and switch the denomination to the game maximum — $10 in the Silverton game.

    Now when Kane returned to Triple Double Bonus Poker, he’d find his previous $820 win was still showing. He could press the cash-out button from this screen, and the machine would re-award the jackpot. Better yet, it would re-calculate the win at the new denomination level, giving him a hand-payout of $8,200.

  • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Informative)

    by RoknrolZombie (2504888) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:11PM (#43604195)
    Video Poker != Poker

    Mainly because you're not playing against other players, you're playing against the house who defines the rules (the Gaming Commission is involved enough to make sure that there's a fair chance of winning, but "fair" does not imply "fair to the players").
  • by Chirs (87576) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:18PM (#43604267)

    As long as he didn't do anything but push the standard control buttons, I think he's entitled to whatever he can get.

    If the casino thinks they're paying out too much, they can sue the maker of the video poker machine.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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