When Willie Sutton, an American bank robber was captured in 1952 after a criminal career which spanned 40 years, he was asked why he had chosen the profession he had. His response was as stunning as it was simple. He answered that that is where the money is!
When you take this frank statement into account it should come as no surprise that bandits, hustlers, swindlers, and cheats have been targeting casinos pretty much for as long as they’ve been around with varying degrees of success.
The Eudaemons Roulette Shoe
- Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard, two students from the University of California, Santa Cruz, built a computer which could fit into a shoe. It’s objective? Interfering with the Roulette wheels at casinos!
Although exact details of how many places they hit and how much they win are murky, the pair was eventually busted when the computer short-circuited, setting the wearer’s socks alight.
Their unusual name is inspired by the Greek word Eudaimonia, which can roughly be translated to Flourishing.
The MIT Blackjack Crew
Everyone knows that you’re not allowed to count cards in casinos, but operators didn’t know what hit them when a highly organised gang consisting of students from Harvard Business School, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology descended upon them.
The Crew operated from the 1970s through to the 1990s and it’s thought that they were responsible for taking millions of dollars out of the hands of gambling venues from Atlantic City to Las Vegas. They’re also the subject of a very popular film called 21.
The Mobile Roulette Swindle
This crime didn’t involve clever hackers playing casino games on any mobile device, but it did use cellular phones.
A group of criminals used lasers installed on their handsets, which were, in turn, linked to a computer that was able to track the Roulette wheel’s timing and movements at London’s Ritz Casino.
Thanks to this information, they managed to place far more winning bets than usual and ended up taking the house form over £100 000. They were eventually busted, but, interestingly, the judge deciding their case ruled that no crime had been committed! They were allowed to keep the money.
The Soboba Casino Heist
Crooks don’t need MIT-level knowledge of mathematics or a complicated scheme to have their way. Most rely on a good old handgun and a guy on the inside.
This was precisely what happened at Soboba Casino when Ronaldo Luda Ramos took 10 staff members hostage while Eric Aguilera, his accomplice, unloaded more than US$1.5 million from the venue’s vault.
Ramos says his penchant for cocaine was the motivator and claims the gun he used a BB gun in the holdup. He’s also laid the blame squarely at Aguilera’s feet, saying his partner was the mastermind of the operation.
Brawn didn’t fare much better than brains, however, and these two were promptly caught and felt the full force of the law descend upon them. The money was returned and they were sentenced to probation and local weekend jail time.