The Rat Pack did it with style and grace. The suave sophistication of Sinatra, Martin and Davis Junior remain memorable visions for those who cheered them on during their ambitious heist in Vegas.
Smart stuff for the silver screen it may have been, but the modern day gambler has become highly sophisticated and mere shuffles or slights of the hand are simply old rope. No longer is Vegas the venue for fantasy cheating or shifty card play, the UK is awash with high rollers with a far more sinister methods of cleaning up the house. Card Counting is mere child’s play.
Recently, a ring of gamblers were convicted for running well drilled scams which resulted in cheating casinos and bookmakers of millions of pounds.
Gang members worked as a team to distract croupiers and security staff as they stole gaming chips worth thousands of pounds. A spill of drink on the table, a sudden cough or a sweaty palm have been enough to escape even the hawking eyes of ceiling security.
The inquiry, codenamed Suresh, began in January and investigators believe the ring may have been operating for several years. The gang is alleged to have used a similar ruse at betting shops to take money from cashiers.
Detective Inspector John Anderson, of the Metropolitan Police’s clubs and vice unit, said the investigation was the first to include Gambling Commission investigators.
“This gang has been repeatedly committing acts of fraud to gain entry to gaming establishments with the aim of cheating,” he said.”Through working collectively together in this way we can form a more effective response to combat organised gaming fraud.”
However, this was simply a basic hustle. There have been more ruthless methods. A casino cheat used hi-tech spy equipment to win up to 250,000 pounds from a West End casino was jailed for nine months while his accomplices received suspended sentences.
Others have been convicted following use of “up the sleeve” cameras and virtually invisible earpieces.
Hundreds of the roulette-cheating machines – which consist of a small digital time recorder, a concealed computer and a hidden earpiece – were tested at a government laboratory in 2004 after a gang suspected of using them won 1.3m pounds at the Ritz casino in London.
After the research, which was never made public but has been seen by the Guardian newspaper, the government’s gambling watchdog admitted to industry insiders that the technology can offer punters an edge when playing roulette in a casino, and the advantage can be “considerable”.
But rather than ban the devices, which are outlawed in many jurisdictions across the world, the Gambling Commission will require casinos to police themselves. Phill Brear, the commission’s director of operations, admits predictive softwares can work but suggested it might be possible to prosecute someone using them under a new Gambling Act offence of cheating.
However Mark Griffiths, Europe’s only professor of gambling, said using computer devices would not constitute cheating.”If someone’s got a piece of equipment that calculates where a ball will land, then that is akin to card counting in blackjack. It’s not cheating – it’s using science to give yourself a better advantage.”
The equipment consists of a clicker that records the deceleration speed of the rotor and ball, a remote computer device concealed inside a mobile phone or MP3 player, and an earpiece that instructs a player which zone the ball will land in.
The defense is used by Counsel when confronted with trials of this nature. Gaming devices which simply give a gambler an advantage may well be a legal tool in the same way that a sharp brain which can card count cannot be said to be a device for ‘cheating’
The Gaming Commission wrote last year stating: “We now agree that roulette wheels can develop a bias of the type you describe and that, particularly with the use of electronic equipment, players can use the bias to predict with some accuracy the segment of the wheel in which the ball will come to rest, thereby giving them an advantage.”
The dangers of such an admission are clear. Punters who have missed their numbers through innocent number selection will no doubt be furious that a device has cleared their pockets.
The Gaming Industry may now have left a easily accessible defense to a charge of cheating.
As Sinatra once famously quipped “Luck is only important insofar as getting the chance to sell yourself at the right moment. After that, you’ve got to have talent and know how to use it.