Considering that slot games are one of the most heavily audited game types at casinos, it may come as a shock to discover that there are any cheats to start with. Unfortunately, slot machines have never been tamper proof and most cheaters had a field day manipulating real money wins.
Here, we consider some of the most popular cheats that players have successfully used over the years. Many of them are no longer functional and do not work for online slots, so we advise you don’t try them on your next visit to a casino.
Fake and Shaved Coins
Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio was the mastermind behind using fake coins to trick slot machines. Shaped like real coins, cheaters spent them recklessly and even won from them. Colavecchio was arrested in 1998, released in 2006 and rearrested again for his scam.
In a similar strategy, cheaters used shaved coins to trick machines. Old slot booths worked with an optic sensor and physical comparator to confirm payments. So, players paid in a shaved coin and almost immediately put a coin-shaped object in the machine. The comparator would reject the shaved coin, allowing the fake object to trigger gameplay.
Yo-yos were used for more than just entertainment back in the day. Con artists attached the strings of a yo-yo to coins and put them into slot machines. As soon as play started, the cheater pulled out the coin with the string. Thankfully, this method is now obsolete with technological advancements.
It may be hard to see how magnets could manipulate slot machines, but this scam was quite common decades ago. Older machines were built with metal components, unlike today’s booths that are made of non-magnetic materials. Cheats would spin the reels and use a big magnet to stop the spin once a winning combination is formed. They claim the payout and take out the magnet immediately.
Cheat Source Codes
Manipulating the source code of a slot machine was considered the most discreet way to cheat casinos. It still happens today, but occurrences are few and far between. In the early 1990s, Ronald Dale Harris, an engineer in Nevada rigged the source codes and won tens of thousands.
Induced Software Glitch
Due to poor technology, slot machine glitches were quite common in the 20th century. But fraudulent players soon found out how to exploit this to their advantage. Players would intentionally spin and play a weird pattern into the machine to cause a glitch and reward them the payout. In 2015 when a 90-year-old woman won $41 million from a glitch, the court overruled her win because of similar cheating events in the past.
Notoriously invented by Tommy Carmichael, this scam involved using a light wand to confuse the light sensor of a slot machine. Due to the light reflection, the sensor is unable to determine how much was deposited into it. So, the machine ends up giving a massive payout for a small deposit.
Jamming the machine was another big plan that paid scammers huge sums in the 1970s and 1980s. A metal rod and a long wire was all that was needed. Both items formed a top-bottom joint that was inserted into the coin chute, causing it to jam and payout all the money it stored.
Computer Chip Replacement
More advanced con men like Dennis Nikrasch opted for this scam. He bought slot machines, dismantled them and reprogrammed their chips. Later on, he replaced the chips in casino machines with his manipulated versions and siphoned funds for a long time.
This not-so-subtle method led to a $50,000 jackpot payout and a quick arrest minutes after. Several men opened up a slot machine at a Caesars casino in Atlantic city. One of the con men inserted a 20-inch piano wire to jam the wheel rotations of the machine. They eventually altered to spin to trigger a payout but a filming visitor ensured they were caught before they left the premises.
The monkey paw was another Carmichael classic that bled slot machines dry. With a guitar string tied to a bent metal rod, Carmichael manipulated the coin hopper, triggering it to pay coins.