Security goes high-tech

Sep 24, 2002 8:50 AM

   Advanced technology is a wonderful thing in today’s casino, but not always. Casinos across the world are at risk because of high-tech gaming cheats, who cost casinos hundreds of millions annually in lost revenue.

   High-tech cheats are relatively new in the casino, often using such devices and systems as camera up the sleeve, false shuffling, sliding the dice, and card mucking, to name a few.

   This new category of cheat has spawned a new generation of high-tech security analysts.

   George Joseph and Vic Taucer are two such analysts.

   Joseph is president of Worldwide Casino Consulting, and serves as director of surveillance at many major Las Vegas casinos, as well as an expert witness. He is also a member of the board of directors & ethics committee of Nevada Polygraph Association.

   Taucer is president of Casino Creations and professor of casino management for the University and Community College System of Nevada.

   Both hosted a seminar at last week’s G2E convention in Las Vegas.

   George began the seminar by demonstrating the latest cheating techniques used in casinos. For instance, the camera up the sleeve is one of the most advanced, used to elevate card counting and the blackjack table to state-of-the-art heights.

   Here’s how it works: A digital infra-red camera is taped onto the cheater’s arm, and a toe switch in his shoe is used to turn it off and on. The camera records the dealer’s shuffle and the cards that are dealt, with the images transmitted back to an accomplice in a truck.

   The cheat in the truck evaluates the images and determines when the deck is rich in 10’s, and he uses a two-way radio to relay that information to the cheat at the table.

   George said that this scam alone almost cost one casino over $1,500,000 in one session.

   Another technique is false shuffling by the dealers themselves. Among their tricks are run-up stacking, which is not shuffling the cards at all but making it look like they were shuffled;  or actually shuffling the cards, then pulling them apart by cutting them, thus making it look, again, like they were shuffled. George said this scam nearly cost the casino over $1,500,000 as well.

   Card Mucking is another card manipulation, in which the cheater removes one of the cards from the hand dealt to him by concealing it in his hand, then replacing it with a more favorable card from under the table. This is accomplished through the aid of a partner who trades cards back and forth. This scam almost cost $500,000.

   At the craps table, there are the dice sliders. There are usually three people involved in this scam. These include the dice roller or “slider,” as surveillance knows them, the prop bettor, and the late bettor.

   The prop bettor, instead of letting the boxman or stickman make the bet, leans over the table and places the bet himself. At the same time, the late bettor takes the boxman’s eyes off the dice, while the “slider” slides the dice — rather than roll them — under the stickman and prop bettor, who shields the “slide” from the boxman’s view. This way, it’s a fair “roll,” because no one saw the cheater do it. This scam cost a casino more than $500,000.

   If it sounds pretty complicated, it is, but cheaters will go to any extreme, George said. To protect themselves, casinos should be prepared to do so as well.

   That’s where George Joseph and Vic Taucer come in.

   By using their own high-tech tools, implementing operational procedures in the casino, and through educational programs and training, casinos should be able to uncover most cheats in their casino.

   For instance, false shuffling is eliminated by using a staggered shuffle, or sometimes called a wishbone or feather effect. Surveillance can actually see that the cards are shuffled, because the dealer has to place them directly under the cameras, using a two-hand release, then pausing to let the floorperson see them. This way, the “house” controls the game, not the dealer.

   With the dice “sliders,” casinos are buying tables with “speed bumps” built right into the layout, so the dice have to roll or tumble, thus preventing the dice from sliding. The craps dealers also use mirrors and magnets built into the dice stick, to ensure the dice are real, not four-sided, nor magnetized, in case the cheater decided to quick change the dice with his own.

   So, cheater look out. With the help of security analysts such as George Joseph and Vic Taucer, the high cost of being cheated in the casino is being eliminated.

   For more information on these programs, log on to: [email protected], or [email protected].