There wasn’t pizzazz when a casino heist targeted several St. Louis casinos in 2014. No guards to take out. No vaults to crack and no exotic European cars in which to make an escape. Instead, four Russians played the slots at local casinos in St. Louis, Temecula, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. What made it intriguing is that when the Russians played, they won — again and again.
Most people are unaware that most casino crimes don’t involve gambling. Casinos in Las Vegas reported that stolen billfolds and purses outweigh counterfeit money, forgery and money laundering. The modernization of gaming machines is responsible.
Today’s sleek, automated machines are almost impossible to rig. Omnipresent surveillance cameras in casinos deter people from cheating — usually. Despite the precautions, three men used a software glitch in a slot machine to heist more than $400,000 over several weeks. One of the thieves even passed himself off as a high roller while his accomplice acted as his bodyguard.
All casinos employ full-time security to patrol the gambling floor watching out for criminal activity. As casino security is a new situation, new hires are required to go through extensive training on the rules of the games. A veterans Las Vegas-based casino security director claims the first criminals to pop up when a casino opens are apt to be drug dealers and people seeking to launder money.
Professional scam artists also circulate through the country, and a casino’s security must be ready to catch these highly trained professional gambling crooks. The scams vary in sophistication with the most common being plucking cash vouchers from slot machines to marking cards. Some high-tech cheaters use hidden cameras that detect clear substances smeared on cards. Other scams involve inserting electronic gadgets into a slot machine to fool the machine into thinking that cash has been put in the slot.
Many persons are unaware that simple misunderstandings may also result in criminal charges if a casino is involved. Writing a bad check, for example, is not likely to get a warrant issued for your address, but fail to pay a casino marker, and you’re sure to go to jail. The penalties for a casino crime can include prison time, fines and long probation periods.