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Gambling Fraud

Theft & Gambling Fraud

fraudThere have been some rather significant cases of fraud that have involved the gambling industry so on this page we take the opportunity to take a look at them but before we do that, let’s take a look at what we mean by Gambling Fraud.

What Is Gambling Fraud?

As we have seen, there have been cases of match-fixing in the past where punters have tried to take advantage over the house. But there have also been casino and bookmakers that have been trying to gain an unfair advantage over players. For example, there have been cases where casinos had rigged slot machines that will pay out less than expected, table games fraud. We have taken a look at all the different types of gambling fraud and theft and what have been the repercussions.

Players Stealing From Operators

But let’s take a look at the type of gambling theft that has always been portrayed also in film and TV shows. The customer that is trying to steal money from a casino.

Over the years there have been some pretty impressive scams that have been performed, and the most memorable are:

Richard Marcus

He was not only outstanding in what he was doing but also did set up a business where he was teaching others to do the same. He had a technique where he would lead dealers into thinking the bet he was making were smaller than in reality. He was putting valuable chips below the ones that had less value.

If he won the bet, he would reveal that he was the big bet, if not he would use the hands to replace the big chip with a smaller one. He managed to carry on with the scam for years but was finally caught and persecuted.

Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo

This Spanish record producer recorded hundreds of hours of roulette spins and was convinced that the roulette results weren’t always the same. The first time he tried his theory end up with more than £550,000 in Madrid. He went to Vegas where he won around £1,5M. The casino, however, banned him for life, and he took the case to the United States Court as he believed that he wasn’t doing anything wrong. The Casinos didn’t lift the ban on the Spaniard, but they modified the way that they test the randomness of roulette wheels.

MIT Blackjack Team

This was also made into a film and it is the history of one of the most famous casino thefts. The team worked to count cards in blackjack and created a system that was without any flaws and that could go undetected. Watch the film called ’21’ to know all the details as it is excellent.

The Laser Scanners

A group of gamblers from Eastern Europe used laser scanners into their mobile phones to con The Ritz Casino in London in 2004 of more than £1 million. The phones were connected to a computer that would determine the ‘decay rate’ of the spinning roulette ball. This would tell the gang the rough section where the ball will end up.

The computer was really fast in doing the calculations which means the group was able to place the bets before the final rotation. Since sector targeting is not illegal, the casino wasn’t able to have their money back and couldn’t persecute them.

Casinos Scams

casino_scamAs we have seen, there are lots of individuals that try to steal money from casinos. There are however also plenty of stories where the casinos are trying to give themselves an extra edge in the fight against the customers.

The Near Miss Scam

It is the Random Number Generator software that regulates slot machines. Every spin should be random. The programming is made so that the casino has a slight edge, but some operators tried to push it to the next level. The slots were programmed to land on a ‘near miss’ consistently leading players to believe they went very close to win a massive jackpot.
The independent auditors found the casinos out and obviously revoked their license to operate.

The American Coin Scandal

This scandal happened in Nevada in the 1980s. Slots machines operated by American Coin were programmed to stop gamblers from winning the top prices or hitting jackpots. Players were lured in with the chance of winning large prizes, but that was impossible. Nevada seized more than 1000 machines, and the company was fined. This lead to more inspections of slots around the state.


Online casino AbsolutePoker was hosting a big poker tournament. When Marco Johnson reached the final table, he thought he had a chance to win a $30,000 price. He started to notice that hands were quite erratic and some players were behaving strangely. He didn’t win but requested a printout of all the hands he played.
AbsolutePoker sent him a detailed printout of all hands played in the tournament, including IP addresses. Marco did some analysis and found that the tournament winner, who played under the name of Potripper was taking different decisions based on what another player, called #363 was doing while on the same table.

It was then discovered that Potripper’s IP address was of AJ Ripper which was the former AbsolutePoker Director Of Operations and also #363 was the company’s co-owner, Scott Tom. By doing this, they took between $500,000 and $1 million from customers as they could see the hands of others players during the game.

Customers Stealing From Bookies

match_fixing_stamp_on_a_handSome players concentrated their efforts to try to steal money to bookmakers instead of a casino. Those are some of the best examples:

Operation Crock Of Gold

One of the most famous betting scams took place in 1974 in horse racing, and it involved swapping before the race two look-alike horses with the idea of fouling bookmakers. The fake Gay Future won but the gang was discovered when a journalist got information from a stable man. Authorities investigated and found the con.

Gomer Charles

The idea of fouling bookmakers by swapping horses wasn’t new as it was attempted 20 years before by a man called Gomer Charles with a horse name Francasal. He was replaced by a look-alike horse called Santa Amaro. To avoid bookies to drop odds while bets were placed on Francasal, the gang cut off the communication of bookies on course.

The horse won at odds of 10/1, but bookies became suspicious and refused to pay. Eventually, the con was discovered, and Charles went to jail with some other people.

Bookies Stealing From Customers

There are also stories when betting operators have tried to con customers. Let’s take a quick look at those too:

Megan McCann

Bet365In 2016 a teenager called Megan McCann placed a Lucky 15 accumulator bet on 12 obscure races across the country. The overall stake placed was £24,960. All those races won, and she would have won £985,000 in addition to the stake.

Bet365 refused to pay out and returned the stake to her. They did that she had breached the ‘no third party’ rule: all money for a bet has to be supplied by the person that will place the bet and that wasn’t the situation with McCann. Is this a case of a bookie conning a customer or just an example of them applying the letter of their rules?

Closing Down Accounts

This is an example of questionable behaviour from betting sites when it comes to limit customers or shut their accounts down. This usually happens if a punter has been consistently successful. Some gambling sites will simply close the account while others will reduce the maximum bet significantly. The trading team will decide that this is enough but is this unfair practices or it is just a way that betting companies have to protect themselves and their margins?

Unlicensed Operators

Even though in the UK the gambling laws are the best in the world if you decide to bet with an unlicensed bookmaker or casino there is little that can be done if you then get conned. It is essential to check that you only bet with bookmakers that have a regular UK license. All the recommended betting sites that are listed on BestBettingSites.Online have a UK license and are reputable.

Theft & Gambling Fraud In The Future

There will always be new ways to try and con bookmakers and casinos, and on the other hand, operators will have better technologies in place to stop this happening.

In the future social media might play a part. In recent years we have seen ‘bots’ that have been used to spread fake news and also try to influence political events. If this start to happen also on team selections, injuries and so, it can have an effect on odds and give an unfair advantage to those that are running the fake news.

More technological tools might also be invented for example to track the movement of the ball in an online roulette or to track hands in a blackjack game. Surely there will be exciting years ahead for the industry that however has always find a way to fight back illegal punters.

What You Can Do If You Think You’ve Been Defrauded

Match-Fixing-in-FootballIf you are in the UK you can refer to the rules dictated by the UK Gambling Commissions: all the operators that have the license have a duty to follow those strictly. If you believe a betting site or a casino is breaking the rules, you can report it to the UK Gambling Commission. If however, you are betting with an unlicensed operator you basically have no protection.

The first thing to do however if you have some concerns is to speak with the betting site directly. It might be that they have some problems in their computer system and will be able to sort things out. If you don’t find a solution, you can escalate your claim to The Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), who will be able to look into the matter for you. You can also contact the Advertising Standards Authority if you believe you have been misled and ask feedback from the Association of British Bookmakers.

So if you bet with licensed UK bookmakers and something goes wrong there are lots of ways that you can do to protect your rights.