Different Methods Casino Criminals Use to Hack Slot Machines

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Hack Slot Machines. Image Credit: Shutterstock

No casino is hack-proof, and lawbreakers continue to find loopholes in the system to hack slot machines and cash out more money than they should.

While most of us prefer to remain on the right side of the law, there are those gamblers that employ unscrupulous methods, like hacking slot machines, to win. 

Here is the list of some of the most popular methods to hack slot machines that were employed in the past and those still in use today:

1. The Top-Bottom Joint

The invention of this unassuming yet clever tool is often attributed to Tommy Carmichael, a notorious fraudster. Although he was known to have used and modified this tool to make it more efficient, he didn’t create it. The top-bottom joint had been around years before Carmichael put his stamp on it.

This tool is made from a guitar string inserted into a machine’s coin slot to hook its switch, forcing it to dispense coins. While it is a primitive piece of technology, this rudimentary device was said to have brought Carmichael as much as US$1,000 an hour and was a popular choice for cheaters during the heyday of the one-armed bandits.

2. The Monkey Paw

While it may have had a silly name, the Monkey Paw is another cheating tool attributed to Carmichael. Made from a long, thin, curved wire, the paw was a modified version of other existing devices. Carmichael’s original tool was made from a metal clothes hanger. However, over the years, he improved it to hack traditional mechanical slots. By inserting a hook into the slot, the user could search for the switch, press it, and receive a bunch of chips.

3. Fake Coins

When coin slots first appeared, cheaters began using fake coppers. Although slot machine manufacturers worked hard on their anti-counterfeiting tech, fraudsters kept up with the progress, and counterfeit coins are still popular. The maven of counterfeit coins was Louis Colavecchio, who used these to cheat his way to winning US$500,000. However, his cheating skills eventually landed him in prison for seven years.

4. The Yoyo

This clever invention was famous due to its ease of use. It consisted of a coin affixed to a narrow wire. The scammer would then put the coin into a slot, and once the device registered that a chip was inserted, it would be pulled back out again. This allowed the cheater to play continually with a single chip.

A similar scam was used on video slots that took banknotes. However, sticky tape was used on the notes in this case. This was a prevalent hacking technique in early slot halls of post-Soviet countries where machines had poor protection systems.

Software Bugs

With the advent of more complex video slots, software bugs became the most effective method of machine hacking. These bugs could target all kinds of devices, including those made by top software manufacturers. Moreover, if the bug is permanent, scammers can use the glitch over an extended period to keep winning.

An example of this was The Game King slots, which had a bug that came up periodically and paid out more money in particular situations. While a software bug like this is the fault of the software developer, if someone intentionally exploits a bug to earn money, this is regarded as fraud and is against the rules in most casinos.

Cheat Codes

Cheat codes are a recent invention and came about with electronic slot machines. Scammers used particular algorithms to change how a device functioned. Ronald Dale Harris was the most successful adherent of this system. Harris worked as a software developer for the Nevada Gaming Commission, and part of his job involved coding the computer chips used in video slots.

Using insider knowledge, Harris coded the chips in a specific way that made it possible to hack slot machines. Ultimately, it was a straightforward system, and all that a player had to do was insert the chips in the correct order. Once the sequence had been finalised, the machine paid out the cash. While Harris successfully defrauded the Nevada Gaming Commission and the casinos, his scam was eventually spotted, and he ended up in jail.

These days, both online and in-house casinos have complex security systems to spot cheaters and expose the methods they use to hack slot machines. So, never try to scam casinos, or you could end up on the wrong side of the law. After all, the fun of playing slots lies in the thrill of not knowing when you’re going to score that juicy jackpot.

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Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Besides polishing his SEO skills, Bojan has a penchant for creative writing. With over half a decade of experience in the online gambling industry under his belt, his written take on the latest news from the Canadian and global gambling industries is an indispensable source of information for the CASINOenquirer team. Bojan’s primary goal is to ensure that players get a superior experience through the top-notch content that he shares.

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