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>> "crossing state lines makes it a felony conspiracy to commit fraud".

I don't see any fraud though. Sure, they found a system to beat the slot machines, but I'm not sure how that's fraud. What if some guys think they're really good at playing poker and they take a trip to a casino to play?

At what point does playing smart become fraud? or cheating? When does counting cards in blackjack become cheating? When you get too good at it? This whole area seems rather strange.




The big factor here is that casino's specifically forbid the use of devices intended to affect the outcome of the game. You go to a casino, you have to play by their rules. If not, they can argue you are attempting to defraud them.

Counting cards is a much better example of "playing smart", and it is not actually illegal - although casinos will ban any player they suspect to be counting they will likely not be charged with a crime. But once you bring a personal implement in to the situation, it very much becomes a prosecutable crime.


>> The big factor here is that casino's specifically forbid the use of devices intended to affect the outcome of the game. You go to a casino, you have to play by their rules. If not, they can argue you are attempting to defraud them.

I understand that they may kick you out for being too good (he must be "cheating"). And the argument about using a device to aid you might be a more concise definition of cheating of some sort. But I've never noticed any posted rules that one would reasonably be expected to know about. And the use of the term "fraud" is important because then it becomes a legal issue with big consequences beyond getting kicked out or banned from a particular casino. OTOH a casino doesn't need to post the law for people to read. Does the law defer to the casino rules? That wouldn't be appropriate IMHO.

There are "house rules" and there are laws. I'm kind of wondering where those lines are and what specifically these guys did that constitutes a felony. What specific aspect of their scam was illegal. I'm not disputing that it was dishonest and in effect a scam of sorts.


IANAL but there are a few things in this matter that seem to be common knowledge. How these things will apply to a specific instance is for lawyers to discuss. The law, at least in Nevada, does defer to the casino's right to do business with whomsoever it chooses. The law does not permit the casino to beat a card counter up (like in the movie "Casino") but they can insist that such a customer leave and never come back, and in those cases at least in Nevada, when such a customer tries to return, they may become a trespasser [1].

[1]http://www.pandullolaw.com/Criminal-Defense/Trespassing.aspx


Casinos can forbid all they want, but the teeth in the deal is that lawmakers back up the Casinos' rights to set the rules and force you to play by them.


To be fair, the lawmakers aren't really necessary. It only avoids the friction of forcing every gambler to sign a legally-binding contract before playing.


It is, insofar as it turns what could potentially be a civil suit into a criminal proceeding.


"What if some guys think they're really good at playing poker and they take a trip to a casino to play?"

Depends on what they're doing to be "good". Things like card counting can and will get you banned from casinos (though that's more applicable to blackjack).

Advantage play is usually frowned upon but not outright illegal. I reckon exploiting bugs in a slot machine's PRNG really ought to be closer to that than "fraud". Hence, I'm surprised these Russians were charged with anything at all rather than just banned from various casinos as is more conventional for this sort of thing.

I guess the difference between "advantage play" and "fraud" in this case would be whether or not the culprits are breaking the rules of the game. It doesn't sound like they are, seeing as how they're not tampering with the machines.


They were charged and pled, that doesn't necessarily mean fraud was actually committed. DAs have wide latitude when charging people with crimes. If you were a foreign national caught doing this, would you want to take a chance with a jury or bench trial in a hostile (to you) jurisdiction?


> They were charged and pled,

Are you saying these people are innocent, and by some strange stroke of chance and luck, they all boarded a plane, flew across the world, and randomly won thousands of dollars ?

> would you want to take a chance with a jury or bench trial in a hostile (to you) jurisdiction?

hell yes I would. People love to rally behind the underdog and see the casinos lose. Look how much publicity the cases get when a machine malfunctions and displays $1,526,838,003.35 on the win meter, and like clockwork, they file a lawsuit to try to claim a billion-dollar payout.( they dont win, but still, people love to rally behind the plaintiff in those cases).

I'd say for the most part, the criminal courts are hostile to all defendants, not just by definition but by the "plea deal" schemes that prosecutors use and by the puritanical tendencies our society shows in their harsh punishments against "offenders" (viz. the drug war, sex offenses, gun charges, etc)


>Are you saying these people are innocent, and by some strange stroke of chance and luck, they all boarded a plane, flew across the world, and randomly won thousands of dollars ?

I think he's saying that they are not necessarily guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime of fraud ("deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain"). Given the facts presented in the article, I don't think there's much debate to be had about whether they used devices to win at the slots. The question is whether the particular way they did it is (or ought to be) illegal in the jurisdictions they were in.


> At what point does playing smart become fraud?

when you use an active device that essentially guarantees you will win. Elsewhere in the thread someone quoted the Nevada regulations that explicitly state this. I'm sure each state has them now. Had they arrested these guys and didn't find an iPhone with custom software, or a confession that they were remitting their winnings back to Russia, they probably wouldn't be able to charge them with anything (but they could still kick them out of all casinos).


I wonder if they would have been convicted if they'd enabled encryption + a long password on their phone?


better would have been a dead-mans switch: if they let go of the iPhone for more than 6 seconds the program wipes all traces of itself off.




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