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Crime The Almighty Buck Technology

CCTV Hack Takes Casino For $33 Million 308

iComp writes "A sophisticated scheme to use a casino's own security systems against it has netted scammers $33 million in a high-stakes poker game after they were able to gain a crucial advantage by seeing the opposition's cards. The team used a high-rolling accomplice from overseas who was known to spend large amounts while gambling at Australia's biggest casino, the Crown in Melbourne, according to the Herald Sun. He and his family checked into the Crown and were accommodated in one of its $30,000-a-night villas. The player then joined a private high-stakes poker game in a private suite. At the same time, an unnamed person got access to the casino's CCTV systems in the poker room and fed the information he gleaned back to the player via a wireless link. Over the course of eight hands the team fleeced the opposition to the tune of $33 million."
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CCTV Hack Takes Casino For $33 Million

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:10PM (#43198075)

    Don't really see a problem here. Casinos expolits players every hour every day of the week.

  • by yincrash ( 854885 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:14PM (#43198095)
    the casino only loses it's reputation in this situation. the monetary losers are the ones sitting across from him on the poker table.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:20PM (#43198121)

    The house just provides a table to play at and charges based on the bets placed. So the only people fleeced here were the other players.

  • by History's Coming To ( 1059484 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:23PM (#43198137) Journal
    Casinos operate within things called laws. Yes, they have a mathematical edge in the long run, but this is a known factor (and in the UK at least, the long term odds have to be published). What these people did is illegal, meaning it breaks those laws (specifically, the ones about using a "device" to assist you - eg you can count cards if you want, that's perfectly OK, but you can't use a smartphone app to do it). Nobody is forced to go to casinos, and if anybody is seriously surprised that the odds favour the house then they probably shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a table on the grounds that they don't have sufficient mental faculties to understand what they're doing.
  • Er, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frootcakeuk ( 638517 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:27PM (#43198163)
    " got access to the casino's CCTV systems in the poker room and fed the information he gleaned back to the player via a wireless link" Who's to say the casinos don't do this themselves on a daily basis? The fact that this was possible at all makes me question the frequency of such an 'exploit', and not only that, the fact that the opposing players cards were 'readable by security camera' is something that should worry pretty much everyone
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:29PM (#43198183)

    > It was a private poker game in a private suite. The casino didn't lose $33 million, the other players lost $33 million. The casino made money (they take a cut from
    > every game).

    This is so true. I would also add that the Casino might lose $33 million in lawsuits.

  • by anarchy_man3 ( 768249 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:39PM (#43198239) Homepage
    I think the real story here is that a handful of people had $33 Million to blow on a card game while others are dying on the street, and there wasn't a pitch fork and torch wielding rebellion.
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @03:49PM (#43198303) Journal
    This may come as a surprise, but plenty of people (even those in lower income brackets) prefer to not have the government set wages and redistribute income to a great extent... even if it means that some other fellow might be making way more than themselves.
  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @04:20PM (#43198455)

    Protect your cards.

  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @04:32PM (#43198535)

    Mind you, one could argue that taking 33 mil from people who are clearly prepared to gamble it away is less immoral than mugging a tramp...

    And clearly more profitable.

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @05:08PM (#43198693)

    Not true, the fact of the matter is that card counting depends upon there being relatively large number of cards to function correctly. If you were trying to count against a single deck, you wouldn't see enough hands in order to have any meaningful impact on the cards.

    That's ridiculous. The reason they use multi-deck shoes is to increase the difficulty of counting cards. If they were only dealing with 52, it would be relatively easy for a normal person to count cards according to a simple system and watch as the odds turned for or against them and increase or reduce their bets or change the level at which they stay. Also, if they use 12-deck shoes, it's impossible for a player to determine when the casino isn't playing with full decks.

  • by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @05:12PM (#43198713)

    So, who lost more? The suckers around the table lost $33M. The casino lost the reputation that convinces people to drop $33M on their poker tables *every single day*. In the long run, I bet this is far more than a $33M loss for the casino: they've just lost their fishing seat next to a billion-dollar-a-year cash river from high rollers.

  • Re:33 Million!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crdotson ( 224356 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @06:04PM (#43198975)

    Ok, but you had better not have any possessions or anything other than bare subsistence yourself. If I find out you have incredible luxuries like cars or computers when people are starving, I shall judge you to be immoral.

  • by luckymutt ( 996573 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @06:51PM (#43199225)

    The only part of the casino where they ever permit people to be profitable without being lucky, is the slots. The slots will have the pay schedule on the front of the machine, and sometimes you find some machines where they're set to pay out more than they take in. They'll usually be up front near the door to try and entice suckers to come and gamble. And they're usually video poker where if you play perfectly, you can expect a small profit over time.

    (disclaimer: I work in the gaming industry)
    That might be true in unregulated or poorly regulated gaming markets. Some Indian gaming casinos have no state oversight.
    However, in the larger markets, such as here in Las Vegas it is completely a myth that casinos will put the "looser" machines near the door, end of the aisles, etc.
    They are disallowed from changing the odds of it "hitting" and they will NEVER allow a machine on the floor that pays out more than it takes in. And they don't need to...people come in play them regardless if someone near the door hits.
    Also, slots are about the worst in terms of probability.

    And they're usually video poker where if you play perfectly, you can expect a small profit over time. But the Casino can expect to make a large profit over time.
    There isn't really anything like "play perfectly" but you might "get lucky" once in a while and enjoy some small, near term profit. Over the long term, you'll still lose overall.
    If it didn't work that way, casinos wouldn't operate them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 17, 2013 @06:55PM (#43199271)

    And that's why all the high-limit tables are single deck.

    The gambling industry secretly loves the media hype about card counting. They know 99.5% of people can't do it properly, and they can detect those who can. (And, at best, it only creates a minuscule advantage for the counter. The famous MIT group ultimately gave up because profits were so low.)

    Last time I was in Nevada, the dealer was even joking about counting face cards and aces. It's just a way make the game more fun and get you hooked, they know they'll still make their money.

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Sunday March 17, 2013 @09:39PM (#43200187) Homepage

    But, the fact that things are stacked in the house's favor and that the house keeps it that way is dubious ethically speaking.

    I disagree with this. The casino has to pay for space, pay for equipment, pay for materials, pay for utilities (lighting/heating/cooling/water/sewer/garbage), pay for staff, provide profit to investors, etc. If the games were perfectly 50/50, it is an absolute certainty that the house would lose money. In that situation, it would be the players taking advantage of the house.

    Secondly, name a business that isn't some kind of investor scam, where investors are absolutely certain to lose money (and yes, there are stupid ideas that get funded, but that's different from a scam because still, people (unwisely) expect that a profit can be made). A casino that is absolutely guaranteed to lose money, obviously would give a lousy return on investment, and would never be built because there would be no investors.

    [re house edge:] Most players are not in any position to understand that to any appreciable degree.

    I disagree with this too. The fact that the house has an edge is so widely understood, it has made it into colloquial phrases such as "you can't beat the house" or "the house always wins."

    Of course, there are other ways to run a casino and I could imagine one with 50/50 games, but you're parking spot would probably cost $100/hr, a coke would cost $10, etc. etc. And who knows, people might flock to that. But having a house edge on games is really similar to a restaurant charging $1.50 for a cup of coffee that costs $0.10 in materials (coffee grounds) to make -- because you aren't just paying for the coffee in a restaurant: you're paying for a place to drink it in, someone to make it, someone to serve it, someone to wash the cup, someone to wipe down the table, the table, the cup, the dishwasher, etc. etc..

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @10:26PM (#43200323) Journal
    The key word in your post is "standard". Agree the sequence is not stored in memory, however all psuedo-random generators will repeat the same sequence if given the same seed, I believe ( but cannot prove ) that this was a problem here in Oz about 20yrs ago with one particular type of machine (ie: it was a software bug). Yes, the generator will create random numbers but the utility of them lies in the fact that you can program the statistical distribution of those numbers to be whatever you want it to be. This makes it possible for the law to force Crown to take no more that 15% from the punters via poker machines. The equation you select for the generator can also cause problems, if not done carefully the generator can end up with a very short cycle length that a human can work out by observation.

    A casino game can be way over or under the theoretical payout percentage

    Yes, with one machine the payout can vary wildly from day to day but with a large casino such as crown (2500 machines, 24hrs a day) the daily variance from 15% will be pretty close to zero.

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup