Criminal Charges For Using A Slot Machine With Faulty Software?

from the could-happen dept

We've had a few stories over the years of casinos refusing to give out slot machine prizes claiming software glitches on the slot machines. But how about charging people with a crime for using a slot machine with faulty software? Slashdot points us to a story about prosecutors debating whether or not to charge a bunch of people with criminal charges for using a slot machine that incorrectly credited every $1 as if it were $10. Now, clearly, the maker of the slot machine and the casino itself need to take some of the blame here, but prosecutors are saying (correctly) that if people knew the slot machine was doing this and used it on purpose for that reason, that's fraud. Even if that may be correct from a legal standpoint, it still looks bad. Caesars and the slot machine company should have tested the machine, and either way, charging people for criminal behavior for simply using your faulty machines can't be good for publicity.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:02am

    Ahem

    My door is open at night.
    Is it ok to rob my house ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Nipsey, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:23am

    no, why??

    (ps: shut your door!)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    MadJo (profile), Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:24am

    Re: Ahem

    You see a product for sale for 1/10th of what its price should've been (for instance a Plasma tv for 100 bucks, instead of 1000) And it's painfully obvious that a mistake has been made.
    Is it OK for you to buy that product?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Bob, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:31am

    Re: Re: Ahem

    Yes, because it's entirely their fault. If they can't make sure that a price (or slot machine software) is correct, then they are going to feel the consequences.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    fuzzix, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:31am

    Re: Ahem

    My door is open at night.
    Is it ok to rob my house ?
    No, but try to get the cops and your insurance company to take you seriously.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    inc, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:40am

    How does one know that the slot isn't suppose to give you extra credit? You can't say someone had criminal intent if they find a great deal. When I worked retail if the store mislabeled a product the label was pulled and that customer usually got the product for that price. Why should you treat your customer's like criminals? It's not like these people aren't gonna turn around and lose all that cash in your casino anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Bob, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:45am

    You're Kidding

    Criminal charges for getting too much money from a slot machine while gambling? How many patrons would just figure that it was some sort of comp? I understand that the "accused" were exploiting the situation, but I would place all responsibility with the casino. Is this not a strictly regulated industry?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Kap, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 4:51am

    HEY! wake up

    Though there is not a law on the books for card counting (as long as it's in your head) they [the casino] can ask you to leave, put you on a list, and basically blackball you from all casinos- you use your own mind to make my point.

    If they can't get their software right-well you know- and you have enough ZELOT prosecutors in the U.S. to actually charge you...

    LOCK your F'n door dumb ass.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Kap, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 5:03am

    Re: Re: Ahem

    #8's 4 U

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Old Guy, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 5:20am

    Illegal?

    Not arguing the negative PR value of the whole thing. But the first person to use the machine might have a reasonable case of "I didn't know". But the ones that followed specifically because of the glitch? hmmm jmho

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Wolfger, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 5:22am

    software glitch?

    1) The regulatory board that keeps casinos "honest" should fine the hell out of them for having glitchy software, regardless of whether or not the glitch found is in their favor (for every bug you see, there are 5 that are well hidden).
    2) The patrons are likely to think it's some sort of comp (I've never been to a casino, but my friend's mom practically lives there, and so I hear all sorts of stories about the freebies casinos give out, and I would assume any slot machine crediting me 10 times what I put in to be comping me).
    3) Did I mention that the casino should be fined for having glitchy software?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    wnyght, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 5:25am

    just my opion, but when i go to casinos, i usually play blackjack,but the rare times i have played slots, and watching other people play slots, I have noticed that no one really pays any attention until they win or they are out of credits. So i would have to ask if any of these people chared knew what the hell was really going on?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:04am

    And that is why...

    I would not play a slot machine. Even if it weren't an obvious problem like the machine thinking $10 was $1 and something as simple as winning the jackpot twice in a row what is to keep the casino from saying the software was faulty to get out of giving you the prize?

    There is blame on both sides here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:19am

    Read this elsewhere:

    If the machine jams, the casino dosen't return your money, why shouldn't it be the same other way round ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:22am

    when i was in vegas, there was a distinct style at the games.

    table games had a more attentive sense about them. pay the money. count the chips, show the cards/dice/ball, place the bets, stop the betting, play the game, payout.

    i think most of this had to do with the human interaction between the better and the gambling venue.

    whereas at the slots, it was more like, inster bill, hit max bet, hit max bet, hit max bet, out of cash, insert bill, max bet, max bet. the people didn't check if they were getting the correct credit for those Frankiln's they were pumping into the machine.

    but i think the gaming comission and the casions are the ones with the majority of the burden here. the casions are in the business of not losing money, so they should be making sure that every credit/chip is accounted for.

    the GC should be on the lookout for any software that has bugs, either for or agains thte consumer. they (the GC) should be checking for the most equal playing field (especially for the consumer)

    ultimatly, i believe the consumer has the smalles responsibility out of the 3. they should be protected both ways, if they are in the advantage (i.e. more credits) or not (refusal of payments/shorting credits) due to the fact the GC/Casions are the ones who are trying to make everythigna ccountable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:27am

    Nonsense

    As the linked article points out, when a slot machine error works in the casino's favor (the machine "eats your money without registering a credit), they don't refund you, so why shouldn't the opposite be true? If this criminal prosecution thing works, I'm gonna file criminal charges against the next casino whose machines rip me off...

    I also can't figure out how they know who was playing the machines. When I was in Vegas, the few times I felt like playing a slot, I just fed it a $1 or $5 bill. I know they have cameras everywhere recording people but how do they know who the people are in order to track them down weeks later?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    That Guy, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:40am

    Better analogy

    A better analogy to the plasma on sale would be this.

    You go to the store, and you buy a $1000 32 in plasma, and when you pull up to the loading dock they put a $2500 52 in plasma in you vehicle and you take off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Meoip, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:45am

    If

    If I am liable for using faulty machines I better stop using my windows computer...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Gamblin man, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:48am

    Place your bet

    Hey look, I just bet a dollar and won 10!
    If it was a snack machine, sure, that's wrong. The whole point of a slot machine is to risk money against profit. I'd call that winning.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Tin Ear, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:52am

    The way I see it...

    The article in question states that the machine was crediting every dollar inserted as ten dollars. Not, as I believe some are thinking, that every payout was ten times what it was supposed to be.

    This should not have been such a big thing for the casino anyway, since the odds are certainly in the casino's best interest. So, you get ten plays for every dollar assuming it was a dollar per spin. Even so, the casino makes far more money than it was paying out. The $400,000 some-odd "damages" the casino claims to have lost due to the faulty machine equates to $40,000 they actually made on the machine when people put their coin in the slot.

    Who's at fault? It's all on the casino for not paying close attention to their own equipment, not the patrons who took advantage of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 6:52am

    The thing in the store - most stores have a policy of if they mislabel the price on the shelf, that's what they sell it for, and they eat the difference.

    I think it's more analogous to you go to an ATM. You withdraw $20 and it gives you $2000. Do you think you get to keep the $2000?!?!? Of course not. Bet your ass someone's going to come looking for you ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Ferin, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 7:09am

    Strikes me as similar to using exploits

    I suppose they could be looking at it from the angle of knowingly exploiting this flaw as similar to hacking via code faults.

    I suppose the fraud could come from claiming winnings they hadn't acutally earned.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    TechnoLust, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Ahem

    As a matter of fact, it is. I was remodeling my kitchen and was in Lowe's when I noticed that they had put $699 on a 30" wide convection wall oven that I knew retailed for $1200. I checked the model number on the sign, thinking it was just taped to the wrong display, but the signs had been printed wrong. I asked for a manager and he said that it was a mistake. I said, "But you have to honor an advertised price, right?" He sighed and said yes and sold me one for $699 (and then ripped down the sign and printed new ones with the correct price.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    weasel, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 7:29am

    Why bother to pull the handle and play the machine if put in a hundered and instantly cashout a $1000? The Guy probably stood there and emptied the maachine or did so every time the filled it with money.

    Pretty stupid in a high security environment, they will find you sooner or later.

    I can see maybe somebody walking up and putting in $100 pulling the lever once and getting a jackpot and walking away a winner thinking they just missunderstood the payout.
    Alot of those machines have crazy ways to win...

    Alot of machines dont even use tokens anymore here they just print winning slip.

    Anybody winning $40,000 from a casino in such a short time like less than 6 months is probably automatically investigated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Dan, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 8:17am

    Nevada gaming used to be very thorough

    ...in testing their games. I used to write firmware for casino gaming systems. The games are tested many different ways. The games are tested to ensure (statistically) that they pay out correctly under all bets/combinations. They are also tested both hardware and software-wise by subjecting them to power outages and very high static electricity shocks while they automatically play their games. Any failures and the manufacturer must fix the issue and re-submit for testing again. The manufacturer also must provide a complete source code listing for the gaming comission to review, and they must provide instructions on how to use an in-circuit emulator to 'halt' the machine and manipulate the outcome of the games.

    It's the manufacturer that pays the state for all the testing so they go great extremes to get it right the first time.

    My guess (and it's completely a guess) is that the error would be in the bill/coin acceptor mechanism itself rather than in the game portion of the firmware. Those mechs are intelligent peripherals purchased from third parties. Sometimes the firmware in them has a bug or two. I've seen machines accidentally credit for $50 when a $20 bill was inserted but the problem was detected very quickly and a workaround put in place within hours.

    I'm surprised that the machine made it past Nevada gaming without the error being detected. They do employ third parties to do the testing but my understanding was they were very detailed, very firm and very fair. Maybe things have changed since the 90's?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 8:19am

    Re: Nonsense

    Aren't most casinos attached to hotels? Just watch the cameras and see what room they go to. And in the case of a person not staying there I'll bet (no pun intended) that they have the aid of local law enforcement to identify them. I was watching one of those discovery or history channel specials about casinos and appearantly they have literally dozens of people watching those cameras I wouldn't put it passed them to spot a machine that is "faulty" and follow the person using it. But none of what I just said does not answer why it takes weeks to contact them about the money.

    And I still say that in order for them to know that the software of a machine is faulty they must know exactly how the software is suppose to work. And by knowing exactly how the software works I mean they exactly when the machine will and will not hit the jackpot. I do not like those odds.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    BTR1701, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 8:38am

    Re: Re: Nonsense

    > Aren't most casinos attached to hotels?
    > Just watch the cameras and see what room
    > they go to.

    Assuming they're staying at hotel, yeah. But a significant percentage of people that gamble at any given casino are either locals who have their own homes in the area or people who are just as likely to be staying at some other hotel in town, not necessarily the one the casino is attached to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    just my luck, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 9:04am

    Think about the odds of finding a machine with a g

    What I think is going on is simple. 1, 2, 3 times is exeptable, now coming back and instering your whole pay check and multipling it by 10x and been aware of the glitch, is a fuard.

    Example: (paycheck $550 x 10 = $5500)
    All without pulling a handle and just hitting CASH OUT.
    WOW now we have a problem.

    Also we dont know if they (Casino's guest) repeated this proceess over and over.
    Imagine now we have $5500 ok insert it again.
    $5500 x 10 = $55,000 now that's a good day.
    Now we looking into Grand theft. Bummer.

    Think about the odds of finding a machine with a glitch like this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    James, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 9:10am

    Re: Better analogy

    No thats not a better analogy. A better analogy would be that a store employee, or SOMEONE, incorrectly marks a 52" plasma tv for $500.

    You buy said tv thinking, ".. what a bargain, thats a bargain for me". They the store tries to prosecute YOU suggesting YOU were the one who tampered with the price, or that you SHOULD HAVE at least known better.

    Its total BS. The store, in this case the casino, should be monitoring such things. If they find a defective machine, fix it. If someone is playing it, make them leave, then fix it.

    It should be clear that its only criminal if the person playing the machine is tampering with it, and they have a 100-zillion cameras watching you to know if you did that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 9:10am

    Quit with the analogies, they don't make sense.

    A casino is NOT like a normal grocery store, electronics store, and what have you so quit with the completely pointless analogies of "If I went to a store..." Casinos are regulated tightly by the state gaming commission. There are rules and guidelines they must follow including keeping the balance of what they pay out and what the house makes. With a glitch like this, it throws that balance off and the casino is out more money than you think and might be slammed with a few fines.

    Think about it, if casinos really could they would let people win a lot more often. It would draw in more crowds and they would make more money. They can't do this though without getting fined. Gambling in Vegas is not as much luck as you think.

    Now as far as the people being sued, I don't know their situation. I've played plenty of slot machines in my time and you can get into that robot-mode of playing, but even then it would be pretty hard to not notice you are getting way more credits than you bought (then again, I'm not an addict). It's called stealing no matter who it's from. Some people think stealing from big corporations just because they have a lot more money is okay, but I don't. Stealing makes you a thief no matter how hard you try to reason it. I believe the casino is entitled to damages suffered and there is no excuse why those people did not press the service call button (located on every machine) other than greed that is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Clay, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Nonsense

    >Assuming they're staying at hotel, yeah. But a significant >percentage of people that gamble at any given casino are >either locals who have their own homes in the area or >people who are just as likely to be staying at some other >hotel in town, not necessarily the one the casino is >attached to.

    Ok, watch which car they get into (licence plate). Or watch them go to the next hotel, half of them are owned by the same people anyways. Even if they weren't, casinos would most likely work with each other in finding a person that scammed a casino out of money because it's a threat to their casino as well. On the off chance they take public transportation(or walk), get local authorities involved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Ahem

    BINGO!! That's the key.

    Also, it's one thing to change the software so that one can commit fraud but if the system itself is already faulty and you take advantage of that fault, I don't see it as a crime.

    Putting underpriced barcodes on store items is fraud. Buying items at mistakenly overly discounted prices is not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    satan, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 11:26am

    fuck them

    the house always wins

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Nomad312, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 5:22pm

    Most of you are missing the point

    While an action may be unethical does that really make it illegal? Whatever your stand on the issue; did these people do anything illegal? I don't believe they did. There is no law saying one way or the other and I don't think there should be. We already live in a society where we can be breaking a law without even knowing it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Coaster, Jul 24th, 2007 @ 5:25pm

    intent

    To use the mispriced item in the store analogy, if you found that a bathtowel rang up at $1 when it was tagged at $10, you'd likely go back and buy a whole set. Maybe even a whole extra set. You think that the store is having a promotion you didn't know about. A grocery store was having a buy one, get 2 free promo, I bought as many as I was allowed in one transaction, then came back the next day and did so again. I took advantage of a good deal, exactly as they intended. How was someone to know that this was not a marketing ploy to draw press to the casino? (and look, it is)

    You assume that those in charge of the situation/items did not make a mistake, as they do not have a reputation for it, and do not lead you to expect mistakes.

    We go through life thinking that those that are responsible for it, are doing things a certain way because that is how they wanted it to be. We have no background, no basis, to expect them to be doing something that way by mistake. Without knowing the mind of the casino, there is no way to know they did not purposely rig that machine to do that.

    When gas stations accidentally sell gas at cents on the dollar and people come back and fill up all their vehicles, they don't expect the customers to come pay the difference. They write it off to their dumb mistake for not checking. And they don't do it again. Why is a casino any different?



    *~*~*~He who bitches loudest gets the money~*~*~*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Woadan, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 9:59am

    Acid Test

    If you were putting in a dollar and you were getting credited 1/10 of the value (a tenfold mark-up for the casino), you would certainly be demanding that the casino fix the machine, or turn it off.

    The acid test is that you can't have it both ways. If you can't be ripped off by a fault in the software by the casino, then it follows that the casino can't be ripped off by you as a result of the fault in the software.

    Woadan

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Ramses the Damned, Jul 29th, 2007 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Acid Test

    Woadan wrote
    >> If you were putting in a dollar and you were getting credited 1/10 of the
    >> value (a tenfold mark-up for the casino), you would certainly be demanding
    >> that the casino fix the machine, or turn it off...

    The problem is that the casino is getting it both ways, they do not refund your money when the equipment fails to credit you appropriately.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    catchmeifyoucan, Aug 6th, 2007 @ 12:27am

    Re: Nonsense

    if you use a players card offered by many of the casinos, then they can tell which machine you were on, what time, what day etc etc etc!

    catchmeifyoucan !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anne, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:26am

    Is it right

    I think it depends on the casino... If after investigation it is discovered they did not properly follow internal operating procedures then I say they should pay up...
    I'm sure in this day of buy outs the money crunch should factor in... Think about it... It's an easy way to make up a shortage... Truth be told if you loose does anyone investigate? So I say fair play... Casino should pay up...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This