Shaving Slot Cheats!
The right hand side quarter has had about 0.040" shaved
off its diameter in order to trick the machine into paying out
coins from the hopper without counting them. Most casinos have
fallen victim to this scheme for emptying the slot's hopper
without know it was happening. The change in coin diameter is
small enough to escape casual visual detection. Simple coin
comparators cannot distinguish such slight coin diameter changes
and can be tricked into accepting shaved coins by "slamming" them.
Shaved coins go in for credit and come out free. All
IDX Coin Acceptors feature
precision optical diameter measurement to prevent their acceptance
in the first place!
Industry Articles On Coin
Authorities battle high-tech cheaters
Wednesday, February 21,
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal
Criminals improve sophistication as casino
slot machines make technological advances
-- Thieves are keeping
pace with the technological advances that have revolutionized
casino slot machines, gaming enforcement officials say. Regulators
say the problem is widespread but have a hard time placing a
dollar figure on the losses.
Although they do not
track slot cheats' crimes, state police with the Division of
Gaming Enforcement in Atlantic City say they recover evidence of
slot cheats' work
-- most often
shaved coins and slugs -- almost on a daily basis.
1999, for example, two people were arrested and more than 12,000
bogus slot machine tokens seized in what police said was a
sophisticated scam operating in more than one Atlantic City
also try to beat the house by introducing flaws into the slot
machines' computer programs or by manipulating hoppers' payouts.
"There are gangs that do nothing but cheat slot machines," Sgt.
Gerald Stoll, a state police detective assigned to Gaming
Enforcement, told The Star-Ledger of Newark. "It can be a decent
enforcers say introducing a flaw -- such as causing a slot machine
to hit a jackpot after a sequence of bets -- is the most
difficult. Slot machines are tested hundreds of times before being
placed on the casino floor for play.
have stuck wires up coin trays to block a beam that counts coins
being paid out. Still others have made money by teaching their
techniques to others. Slot manufacturers have changed machines to
make the wire a less lucrative trick, but cheaters have happened
upon an optic device that can also block the counter beam. Like
they did with the wire, slot makers are attempting machine
modifications that would end the success of the optic device.
Authorities say more unconventional methods used by cheaters can
sometimes help them escape detection through surveillance.
Casino "Token Shaver"
Slot Cheats Arrested
Agency: State Police D/Lt. John Lessnau, Gaming Section,
Southeastern CID, (313) 456-4100
July 23, 2002 Michigan Newswire
Detroit. Detectives from the Michigan State Police Gaming
Section, working in cooperation with United States Customs Service
personnel, have identified and arrested two subjects at the
Ambassador Bridge (United States/Canada international border point
of entry) for conspiring to engage in a casino-cheating scheme.
The United States Customs Service contacted the Michigan State
Police, Gaming Section following the discovery of a "bench
grinder" and a large amount of casino slot tokens during an
inspection of a vehicle entering the United States. An MSP Gaming
Section investigation revealed that the two occupants of the
detained vehicle were utilizing the bench grinder to "shave"
casino slot tokens for illegal slot machine play.
"Shaving" – to cut or grind the outside of edge of a slot token
to reduce the diameter of said slot token for the purpose of
defrauding an electronic slot machine. Specifically, the reduced
sized slot token when deposited into the slot machine for play
would be recognized by the slot machine’s optic mechanism as a
valid credit, however, the slot machine’s coin comparitor
mechanism would physically reject the slot token; thus affording
the slot cheat an opportunity to continue to repeatedly deposit
the same slot token(s) into the slot machine for the purpose of
accumulating illegal slot credits for play.
According to investigators, one subject confessed that the other
subject had been mentoring him in the technique of "shaving" slot
tokens for illegal slot play for approximately one year. Both
subjects were utilizing this cheating technique to defraud
numerous casino venues throughout the United States. The subjects
intentionally entered into the United States at the Detroit-based
border for the purpose of patronizing different casino venues
throughout the State of Michigan with the objective of utilizing
this cheating technique to obtain monies from illegal slot play.
An inventory of the confiscated slot tokens located in the suspect
vehicle determined that the two subjects were in possession in
excess of eight-hundred individual casino slot tokens with
approximately seven-hundred of these casino slot tokens determined
to have been altered ("shaved") for illegal slot play. In
addition, an assessment of the individual casino slot tokens
determined that the casino slot tokens are affiliated with thirty
separate casino entities located in fifteen different states
including one casino located in Ontario, Canada.
Arrested: MICHAEL ANTHONY NICHOLS, 04/12/55
of Carter Lake, Iowa
BOBBY DEE LUMAN, 08/06/52
of Kansas City, Missouri
Both Nichols and Luman were arrested and arraigned on multiple
felony charges including Possession of a Device to Alter the
Outcome of a Gambling Game, and Conspiracy to Alter the Outcome of
a Gambling Game (maximum 10 years and/or $100,000 on each count).
Shaved Coins Cheat Casinos
There aren’t too many places you can go on any of the local casino
boats and not be spotted by a surveillance camera. Yet, some still
managed to get away with theft.
They cheat the casinos out of thousands of dollars in revenue with
the use of shaved coins. According to officials, shaved coins are
shaved down so that they will usually fall to the coin return,
thus giving the slot machine player another turn.
“Some people think it’s not a big deal, but they can amass a
pretty good cache of coins. It’s theft. It’s a crime. It’s
cheating the casinos. It’s cheating the citizens of Indiana,” Maj.
Mark Mason, head of the Gaming Division of the Indiana State
Police, said Friday.
Sometimes, however, suspected cheaters get caught. Earlier this
week, the Lake County prosecutor’s office charged Wei Jian Xie
with one count of theft for allegedly using shaved coins.
According to prosecutors, Xie, 40, of Chicago, was found Aug. 9
with 139 shaved coins worth $1 each on Horseshoe Casino in
Hammond. It’s the second time Xie has been charged with using
shaved coins. In March, he was arrested for using $149 in bogus
coins on Harrah’s Casino in East Chicago.
the untrained eye, it’s nearly impossible to point out someone
using a shaved coin, Mason said. “You can walk right by someone
and not know they are using shaved coins,” Mason said.
“We have a number of different safety nets in place,” Kasley
said. “We prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”
High-Tech Slot Cheats Put New
Spins on Old Scam
By JUDY DEHAVEN
c.2001 Newhouse News Service
Nevada regulator with computer savvy, Ronald Harris was one of the
best at busting slot cheats. So good that for four years, he ran
his own high-tech scam undetected.
Seth Joseph Bergen's methods, police said,
were more common. Bergen is accused of wagering in casinos
throughout the United States with counterfeit tokens that may have
been made in his Florida home.
But Dennis Nikrasch outdid them all. He
perfected a talent for rigging slot machines in his garage, then
went on to mastermind two schemes that netted an estimated $16
Ploys to beat the house have been around for
as long as gambling has existed.
Although technological advances have
revolutionized the casino industry, thieves have also gone high
tech, using methods that sometimes escape even the best
"There are gangs that do nothing but cheat the
slot machines," said Sgt. Gerald Stoll, a State Police detective
assigned to New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement.
It's a problem so prolific that experts and
regulators could not put a dollar amount on how much is lost each
year. "It's been awhile since I heard someone pick a number," said
Shannon Bybee, executive director of the International Gaming
Institute at the University of Nevada/Las Vegas and a former
Nevada regulator. "It's substantial. But there's really no way of
Patrons have spilled everything from drinks to
WD40 to mercury to the gravel found in the casino ashtrays into
coin slots in attempts to manipulate the machines.
Some have zapped them with electricity to
shock coins into dropping. Others have tried to slip a wire up the
coin tray to block the beam that counts coins as they fall out.
And others slip counterfeit bills into the slot machines' bill
The tools vary. And they've progressed with
slot technology. But the concepts behind the cheating remain the
"There are three ways to cheat a slot
machine," said Richard Williamson, who heads the technical
services bureau for the Division of Gaming Enforcement in New
Jersey. "You can introduce a flaw into the (computer) program. You
can use counterfeit bills or coins, which give you better odds
because now, you're playing for free. Or you can manipulate the
hopper to think it's not paying out."
The first -- introducing a flaw, or "gaff" --
is the most difficult.
That's because inspectors run hundreds of
tests on the machines before they place them on the casino floor.
Harris was one such inspector, until he went
from protector of the public trust to its most high-profile
According to testimony at his trial, Harris,
who was convicted, took a computer program that checked to see
whether the slot machines were functioning properly and rewrote it
to cause the machines to hit a jackpot after a certain sequence of
bets were made. Regulators inadvertently introduced the gaff while
conducting random inspections.
Harris' downfall was his accomplice. In 1995,
Reid McNeal seemed to have done the impossible while playing keno
in Bally's Park Place -- he matched all eight numbers and won
$100,000. The odds of guessing all eight were about one in
McNeil drew more attention when he asked to be
paid in cash and showed a driver's license that listed a different
address than the one he gave when he checked into the hotel.
Investigators searched McNeil's hotel room.
They found Harris.
Investigators ultimately traced nearly $50,000
in jackpots that Harris helped rig. But it could be more, since
jackpots of a few hundred dollars were not documented.
Likewise, it is impossible to say how much
money is lost to cheats who use fake tokens. "Some (counterfeits)
are so good," Stoll said, "it's hard to distinguish them from the
What matters to the machine is the coin's
metal content, size and density. Each casino uses different
tokens. But that hasn't stopped the cheats. They just make more
than one kind of counterfeit coin.
Bergen, the Florida man, is accused of manufacturing fake tokens
similar to those used in four Atlantic City, N.J., casinos, the
Foxwoods casino in Connecticut and others in the South. He was
arrested last fall while allegedly betting with $10 counterfeit
slot tokens inside the Tropicana Casino and Resort and is awaiting
Investigators would not say what tipped them
off to Bergen. But they have ways of spotting suspects.
Gamblers who try to wager with slugs or shaved coins often hold
two cups so they don't mix their winnings with the fakes they use
to gamble. Then there are the yo-yo players, people who attach a
string to a token and pull it out to use again after making a
spin. The constant motion of slipping in a coin and pulling it out
looks like they're twirling a yo-yo.
"Games have patterns," said Division of Gaming
Enforcement Director John Peter Suarez. "People have patterns.
People have patterns when they're playing. People have patterns
when they deviate from normal patterns."
Investigators can monitor the slot machines
for payout abnormalities. If detected, they review surveillance
footage during the time of the hit.
Photos of suspected players are scanned into a
system that can match faces to pictures of known criminals by
measuring the distance between a suspect's eyes, nose and ears. A
criminal can change hair color and style, wear facial hair or
shave, "but the only thing that doesn't change is the space
between your eyes," said Stoll.
The system sparked a controversy when used at
the Super Bowl to photograph every fan in an effort to catch
wanted criminals and known terrorists. But New Jersey has been
using it in its casinos for three years. So far, 3,800 mugshots
are logged in the database.
But getting clear pictures through the camera
lens can be difficult when gangs work together.
Nikrasch headed one such gang, leading some of
the most profitable ventures in slot cheat history. In the 1970s,
he scammed $10 million from mechanical reel machines, got caught
and spent some time in jail. He re-emerged in the 1990s, after
mechanical reels gave way to video slots, and learned to beat the
new games for $6 million before he was caught again.
Nikrasch worked with several accomplices.
While he rigged the machine, a gang member would act as a blocker.
A third person would play the game, a fourth would do final
manipulation to the machine and then the game would hit.
Leaders who are especially shrewd have made
money by licensing their methods to other crooks. Investigators
said Orville Durham was one who sold his expertise like a business
sells franchises. He made money, police said, by charging others
up to $60,000 to train them to use a "monkey wire" and then took a
cut of the winnings.
A wire is stuck up a coin tray to block the
beam that counts coins as they are paid out. So if someone
legitimately wins 40 coins, the wire could trick the machine into
emptying more -- say 80 -- while the machine still registers 40.
Slot manufacturers have changed the machines
to make it harder to use the wire. But cheats have discovered a
new tool -- an optic device that blocks the beam.
Now, manufacturers are trying to modify the
machines to prevent the optic device from working.
But it will probably be a matter of time
before the cheats find a different scam.
"The ingenuity of the criminal mind," said
Suarez, "is amazing."