November 4, 2005 11:05 AM PST

Technology can't beat us, casino cheat says

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A self-proclaimed casino cheater has criticized the effectiveness of many technologies touted as anticheating measures--including controversial solutions like RFID and facial recognition--and suggested they are doomed to expensive failure.

Richard Marcus said he is "more or less retired" but is still widely regarded as a leading authority on casino cheating. Marcus scammed a reported $5 million in Atlantic City, N.J., Las Vegas, London and Monte Carlo over a 25-year period.

Despite seeing a raft of high-tech measures brought in to thwart his kind, Marcus warned the casinos that they're making the wrong bet by backing technology.

But that doesn't mean the cheaters will prosper, he said.

"Almost everybody gets caught," said Marcus, who has never been convicted of any crime against casinos. "But it's not because of the technology. Casino cheats are desperate people, and they do stupid things. Most people get caught because they get too much exposure."

"I don't have to go back into a casino to know my moves will still work," Marcus said. His stock trick relied upon sleight of hand--that is, switching high-denomination chips for lower-value chips in a bet that had won. At his peak, his team used a technique known as pastposting to replace three black $100 chips with two brown $5,000 dollar chips beneath a single black chip. That meant $300 liabilities were reaping payouts from $10,100.

Such a technique theoretically could be spotted by radio frequency identification technology or optical readers in chips, but Marcus said it's unlikely that will ever be the case.

The same, he says, is true of improved surveillance techniques and advanced facial recognition, which Marcus claims is easily outfoxed. "Facial recognition is an absolute zero. There's not one person alive who's ever been caught by facial recognition," he claimed.

Marcus argued that technology is still only as good as the casino's workers, whom he fooled for years. If cheaters don't draw too much attention to themselves, quickly getting onto and then away from the table, it's unlikely their records will be checked.

"And even if they do check, I'd be long gone," Marcus said. In fact, having technology to fall back on is actually making pit bosses and dealers less attuned to what might be happening right under their noses, he argued.

"These people rely upon their technology too much," he said. "There is no room for maneuver in their thinking. I don't have to fool the camera or the technology, I only have to fool the dealer or his pit boss. If I fool them, the technology doesn't come into play."

One casino, Las Vegas' new Wynn resort, has put RFID technology in all its casino chips. Marcus said he believes this will do little more than improve management of chips within the cage. He suggested it will be too fraught with difficulty to use effectively at the tables, citing as examples other systems that have come and gone, proving more trouble than they were worth.

"Let's say they do eventually get this stuff working on the table. A really good cheating team is going to come up with some way to screw around with the chips and the signal," Marcus said.

Similarly, he agreed that it's possible to run systems and behavioral analysis identifying the difference between luck and probable cheating, as the chief information officer of casino giant Harrah's has claimed. But Marcus said an experienced cheater won't stick around waiting for those findings come to light.

"If somebody is winning excessively, then obviously there is more of a chance that cheating is going on," Marcus said. But he expressed doubt that any cheat who knows the trade well would stick around exploiting an improbable "lucky streak."

The greatest value casinos will get from high-profile security rollouts is the deterrent factor, which should immediately eliminate the low-hanging fruit of the cheating world, he said.

"Most cheaters, when they hear about technological advances being made by the casinos, get scared. They change their game or their tactics, or they move on to something else," he said.

7 comments

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Security is NOT the main benefit of casino RFID
As an employee of an RFID firm in Las Vegas, let me just say that I think it's doubtful that the casinos here in town are really implementing RFID in hopes that it will pay for itself by stopping theft. First of all, theft is such a low-dollar item compared to profits that it barely registers as any kind of payback for this investment. Second, the ability to see detail about what a particular player is doing helps to keep comps coming to the right people at the right time. Keeping players at tables is much more profitable than trying to identify and stop theft.

RFID is best used as a technology to increase asset visibility to increase a company's ability to improve its service. Security is nice, but in most implementations, is truly secondary to the profit motive.
Posted by (42 comments )
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RFID Security
In a sense, you are correct. Casinos don't seem to be focusing entirely upon security; but don't fool yourself into believing that the magnitude of loss goes unnoticed by the casino upper echelon. As for paying for a chip order by stopping theft, it can happen in a heartbeat& remember, theft not only centers around card counting (and other forms of cheating), but it also includes counterfeiting, internal fraud, and snatch & grabs.

I definitely agree with you that a large part of RFID usage should include tracking for comps, asset accounting, increased service, etc... but dont doubt the seriousness of theft and its detrimental impact.
Posted by IKostman (1 comment )
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Casinos won't even invest in the free security methods...
I think Beau's previous comment hits the nail on the head--it seems unlikely casinos would be investing in all this expensive technology to counteract petty theft. After all, this is an industry that's known for 50 years that all they have to do to prevent card counting at Blackjack tables is to shuffle after every hand, and they don't even want to be bothered with that cheap, simple method...
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
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Technology can beat some
I agree with Richard Marcus in that it may be difficult to counter cheats who employ physical trickery to scam casinos. However a new wave of cheats using wireless technology and video can be detected using some new innovations in technology.
We have detected potential scammers using wireless devices on the gaming floors.
The battle continues....
Posted by Setonix Tech (1 comment )
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One casino, Las Vegas' new Wynn resort, has put RFID technology in all its casino chips. Marcus said he believes this will do little more than improve management of chips within the cage, it is not sure to be 100% safe, <A HREF="http://www.rockyslots.com/cheating-at-slots/">cheating the casino</a> is possible and can couse real problems for the casinos.
Posted by casinodad (4 comments )
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"You are logged in as jwallbanger. Please leave a comment."

OK then, here's my comment. FARTFACE SCATMUNCHER

oh yeah, and screw the casinos, they're the real thieves. the only less moral industry is international finance and fractional reserve banking systems.
Posted by jwallbanger (1 comment )
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I always use these charts when I play, gives a great edge http://howtohacklife101.blogspot.com/2011/01/first-post-blackjack.html
Posted by jesisss (7 comments )
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