The sports book on the internet is similar to the normal books and there are many people betting at the same time. So you must be well aware of the tactics and game patterns.
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Images from 1,900 cameras cycle across approximately 100 video displays, which show up to 25 different views at a time. The odds of winning change constantly, but Fox says a single pull generates roughly the same likelihood of victory as the California lottery — about 15 million to one.
With all this cash pouring into the new Vegas, it was inevitable that thieves of all stripes — from armed robbers to hackers — would see the city as the mother lode. Nailing a cheat is a lot easier than pinpointing a terrorist at an airport using the same technology, says Pohlman, because “we’ve got more time and the ability to search an entire database.”
By Dan Koeppel
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In a sharp break with the past, casinos are even making plans to digitize traditional table games like 21. It didn’t go well, initially. The scheme starts when a player — a miniature camera and transmitter sewn into the sleeves of his jacket — sends pictures of the action at the table to an accomplice parked outside. The accomplice runs the card sequences through predictive software on a laptop and transmits the odds to a third hustler — or several — inside the casino who is wearing a pager watch. Right now, the slots don’t talk to the digital cards; surveillance doesn’t talk to bingo; casino security systems are only beginning to communicate with one another. You’ll see some shows and continue where you left off.
One of the newest scams involves teams of cheaters at the blackjack table, operating with high-tech equipment and a high level of coordination. They’re efficient.”
One of the most dramatic uses of casino surveillance systems occurred in June 2000, when a pair of armed robbers rushed a cashier’s cage at the Bellagio. To Budz, a few hundred bucks on a Vegas visit is “just entertainment.”
Net Vegas was conceived in the early 1980s. Meanwhile, Wells and his team had developed their first notions of networked jackpots. That collection — dubbed the Surveillance Information Network (SIN) — is now shared among 160 casinos worldwide. Even wholly digital slots often emulate the effect of a spinning reel. A huge pot is spread across multiple locations, Bingo’s version of a progressive payoff, with a top win of more than $100,000.
None more so than Ronald Dale Harris, whose job as a software engineer for the state Gaming Control Board was to write slot machine anti-cheating software. Likely positioning: at the top or bottom of escalators, where people are generally looking straight ahead. IGT collects the revenues, pays the winners, and gives host casinos a cut. Steve Franks, a 29-year veteran of the LVPD, who spent the early days of his career pursuing drug dealers and now runs the town’s financial crimes unit. But the rejection of video systems raised a problem: It was physically impossible to load a standard 20-inch reel with enough symbols — or stops — to get the odds needed for networked, multiplayer play; there were too few stops on each real. Finally the prize was verified. The Internet is filled with pitches for devices — some costing as much as $500 — that claim to fool slot machines into giving bigger payouts, or into believing you’ve inserted money when you haven’t. It all happens in seconds, and from time to time the caper pays off in a big way. This sort of technology has shown mixed results in airports and public buildings, but it’s a backbone of Net Vegas security. The casinos use various systems, but the mechanics of surveillance are basically the same: hundreds of cameras linked to banks of video recorders, software that can match physical characteristics to shared databases of the faces, names, and histories of suspicious individuals — all run from hidden control centers.
Net Vegas, fully assembled, will spread beyond the Nevada desert and into your home. And, by most accounts, over the next several years, Vegas’ obsession with technology is only going to intensify. He can’t cheat or make mistakes. In 1984, the Norwegian scientist — who’d left IBM to work for Bally’s in Reno — was granted a patent for an Electronic Gaming Device Utilizing a Random Number Generator for Selecting the Reel Stop Positions. Outside, they jumped into a minivan — whose license plates were also recorded on casino videotape. Last year, there were 158,000 slots for 136,000 rooms. Telnaes’ invention enabled Net Vegas to emerge. Five-reel units were tested. The stopping point of the microprocessor-driven virtual reel is determined by a random number generator; the relationship between the many stops on the virtual reel and the fewer stops on the mechanical reel is predetermined by a formula, and weighted to ensure that “near misses” appear to happen often. Players can wager as little as a quarter, and small jackpots — a dollar or 10 — come along frequently enough to keep the action going. In 1998, Harris was sentenced to seven years.
The gambler, in other words, is playing against three random number generators while looking at the sort of old-fashioned, mechanical spinning reels that seem to communicate a reassuring, physical limit to the odds. Mechanical slots with electronic odds and every conceivable theme, from Hollywood Squares to Sinatra’s signature tunes, were soon linked to one another, casino by casino, offering million-dollar payouts. Bill O’Hara, a former senior vice president for sales at PDS Gaming, a previous distributor of Digideal’s cardless systems, envisions a future card host who acts more like a bartender: “He doesn’t have to add, shuffle, or know the rules. Even in constant use, it would be impossible for any single machine to collect sufficient incoming wagers to make such mammoth paydays happen.
The next step for Net Vegas will be to weave the town’s networks together. Seconds before the heist, a video surveillance officer had spotted a man with a gun.
“As soon as we get a clean picture,” says Tom Pohlman, director of surveillance at the Tropicana, “we freeze the image and map the face.” If the cameras don’t get a clear picture, there may be hundreds of matches, but the search can be narrowed based on profiles and behaviors — a predilection for blackjack, for example. Suddenly, the hotel sponsoring your game makes an offer: Come for three days, everything covered. . Most of the Station’s bingo rooms have PC-like terminals that let people play many games simultaneously, without ever physically touching an old-fashioned printed Bingo card. Large physical machines and a large number of reels develop an attitude in the player which . No single slot could pay out $4 million. Not farfetched if you remember that Las Vegas was a sleight-of-hand play from the start: a city where no city should be, a promise of riches to all comers that statistically is never kept. Meanwhile, one of IGT’s local “jackpot response representatives” arrived at the hotel with a winner’s kit that contained an oversize bank draft (for show) and a regular check (for real), along with legal documents and tax forms. As soon as the jackpot hit, IGT’s monitors showed which machine, in which casino, at which moment, had won, and how much the payout would be.
The gambling device in question is a fairly typical modern Vegas slot. The long view: You’re playing online in your house in Los Angeles and reach a certain level of winnings. Equipment companies tinker with concepts like digital, networked blackjack. Giveaways include shadowing a legitimate gambler too closely (called rubbernecking); moving methodically up and down slot rows; wearing a jacket too bulky for a desert city.
Because all these slots are wired together, every coin and bill inserted is monitored and tallied by banks of central computers, often hundreds of miles away.
Then it happened: The symbols on the three reels matched, and the digital Wheel of Fortune began to spin, indicating a win. Why on earth would card players go for this bloodless digital scenario? The same reason slot gamblers like networked play: Cardless systems, like networked slots, can layer on additional action, like supplemental bets, bonus prizes, and, of course, progressive jackpots.
In 1974, before networked slots, Vegas had about 24,500 slot machines, an average of about three for every four hotel rooms. Information is relayed to the player by either hand signals or whispers. Smith, and welcome to Net Vegas.
The dealer becomes a Vanna White while the action — the winning and losing — is in the circuitry. All he has to do is engage with the customers.”
Five years ago, when the first facial recognition products were introduced to gaming operators, Schmitt commissioned a private eye to gather what turned into the world’s largest photographic database of known cheats and hustlers — about 2,500 records in all. Congratulations were low-key: All jackpots need to be confirmed. Linked slots didn’t yet exist, but for the first time mechanical units were being replaced by electronic ones, just as Pac-Man was pushing aside pinball machines in the arcades. But, like the arm on a one-armed bandit, or the dealer who doesn’t really deal at a digital card table, physical Vegas becomes vestigial, a kind of appendix in a gaming world that has moved to a new level. The language Telnaes used to describe his Eureka concept was dry: “Players perceive larger machines,” he wrote, “as being less ‘good’ in terms of winning and payout chances. The maximum jackpot, advertised in flashing digits above each cluster of machines, mounts identically and simultaneously with each spin. The SIN database is also being expanded to include full-motion video.
Every game — slots, cards, sports betting, even bingo — is now attempting to adapt a Telnaes-style solution: Decrease the odds without increasing apparent complexity.
Once surveillance operators decide you’re worth watching, they try to figure out who you are. He lives in Los Angeles.
Usually, three to 10 surveillance experts watch the screens. It has to.”
Dan Koeppel, a contributing editor at National Geographic, has written for Wired and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Drinks were offered to the nominal millionaires. This was the money machine that built today’s flashier Las Vegas. The thieves grabbed all the cash and chips they could hold and ran out of the building, not knowing that their faces were being captured, their movements tracked by camera after camera as they headed for the exits.
“These people are real, real good at what they do,” says Michael Thomson, director of surveillance at the New Frontier Casino.. But “these guys,” he says of the casino crooks, “are calculating. “Seven digits!”
The Telnaes system, bought by IGT and licensed to other manufacturers, essentially uses one virtual slot machine reel — with a large number of stops — to control the more limited permutations of each traditional mechanical slot machine reel. “Seven digits,” he yelled. Marking, memorizing deck locations, and dealer-player collusion still dog the casinos even with today’s mechanical card sorters, but it’s much harder to hide a virtual card up your sleeve.
In this scenario, the physical elements of Las Vegas — glitter, volcanoes, lap dancers, lion tamers — do not vanish. “It’s just as embarrassing to not recognize your best customer as it is to miss a cheater,” Schmitt says.)
Not long ago, a scene like this would have been incomprehensible. may be more influential on whether or not the machine is played than published figures showing the payoff odds.
What made Budz rich, and what has made casinos even richer in recent years, are new digital networks that connect virtually every slot machine in every casino in the country. . (One exception is Harrah’s, which has 26 casinos nationwide and tracks the gambling style and behavior of nearly every regular customer through “club” cards.) But the Internet is already enabling casinos to link disparate databanks and surveillance systems, and it will expand the notion of where Las Vegas itself begins and ends.
Nice to see you again, Mr. Recently, scammers have used the infrared ports on their Palm organizers to trigger the coin chute door, operated by IR technology, to remain open and release more money than the machine was supposed to.
The Chicago grandmother was seated at one of four chattering Wheel of Fortune games in the Big Apple-themed casino — a rococo affair with a mock Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and Coney Island roller coaster.
On the playing floor, New York-New York employees — who had just received a phone call from IGT — rushed to cordon off the winning machine. (Though no casino officials will publicly discuss it, many are believed to also use the system to store digital images of known high rollers so they can be treated like VIPs when they walk in the door. Under development is a camera with facial recognition software built in. The era began with an attempt to dispense with traditional spinning slot machine reels in favor of video displays. A live “dealer” hits a button, and cards appear on individual monitors — one for each player — and on an overhead screen. A cheater spotted in one casino on a Saturday night will have his digital image uploaded to the network with an alert. Via radio, the officer instructed casino personnel not to resist the robbery. That allows bigger prizes, which increases — by staggering quantities — the amount of money people are willing to gamble: In gambler-think, 10 bucks for a shot at a few thousand dollars is one thing; a hundred bucks for a shot at millions is another, even if the odds are much, much worse. On the top of the machine, the jackpot was posted: $4 million. . But the huge bonus prize is the real draw — announced by an electronic display that resembles the ticking wheel on the TV game show, placed just above eye level.
The solution came from a theoretical mathematician named Inge Telnaes. Budz couldn’t read the total; she’d forgotten her glasses. . They plot everything out. Not physically, and not practically. The robbers were arrested three days later. Nevada recently legalized online gambling, and though it’s still forbidden by the federal government, three casinos — MGM, Hilton, and Station — are already gearing up with “play” versions planned for their Web sites.
Could the human dealer get the heave-ho? Not likely: Table gamblers want the human interaction, just as slot players like the illusion of the mechanical reel. Wheel of Fortune, for instance, is part of the MegaJackpots system, a network within 18 states and one Native American reservation that encompasses more than 8,000 machines, about half of them in Nevada. The Ohkay Casino, in San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, is testing Digital 21 and SlotJack units that eliminate cards entirely. Billboards and signs are linked, controlled by remote overseers who immediately dispatch repair technicians whenever there’s a glitch.
(PopSci.com) — Kathleen Budz had been at the slots in the New York-New York casino for only a couple of hours when the big money came along. The cameras trained on the Bellagio’s driveway can track approaching and departing vehicles as far as a half mile.
The most sophisticated operation is probably at the Bellagio, a relatively new casino where tens of millions of dollars are spent monthly in the Italianate parlors, restaurants, and shops. Harris was caught when one of his confederates implicated him after being busted in Atlantic City for rigging a Keno game. “It works unattended,” says Schmitt. “If the answer is yes, it happens in Las Vegas.
Casinos like these games because they cut down on math errors and cheating. The networks behind these monster jackpots are the essence of modern Vegas, a city already so wired, and so primed for more, that it’s become a proving ground for digital tech at the crossroads of money, profit, crime, entertainment, illusion, and delusion. Play at the electronic 21 tables is amazingly fast; some casinos report increases in the number of hands per hour of as much as 75 percent.
That last sentence is the guiding principle of Net Vegas. . “The key is the quality of the database,” says Bob Schmitt, general manager of Biometrica, a division of Viisage, the Littleton, Massachusetts, company that supplies many Nevada casinos with the gear.
In other words, a lifetime running tally. With her was the key player in the drama, a technician who opened up the machine and began a 30-minute run of diagnostics. Bingo’s version of networked slots, for instance, can be found at the Station casinos — a group of 10 modest gambling halls popular with local players. And today’s slots work much harder — earning six times more per room than 25 years ago, generating $4.8 billion in 2001 and accounting for almost two-thirds of the city’s total gambling revenue (in 1974, it was less than 27 percent).
“Does it make more money?” Bill O’Hara asks. After retooling more than 30 machines, Harris and accomplices made the rounds, walking away with hundreds of thousands of dollars. They yielded enough permutations, but confused players.
Surveillance systems, more tested and proven than those used against terrorists, track and trade biometric data about cheaters, hackers, and scam artists. Larry Martin, vice president of Digideal in Spokane, Washington, the company that invented the cardless gaming system, plans to have a licensed Nevada distributor by the end of this year.
But the real excitement comes from the Jumbo games, which allow all players at Station properties to participate in remote, virtual Bingo action that is broadcast onto computer monitors. “We try to keep the players cool,” says IGT public relations representative Connie Fox (she’s responsible for getting the big jackpot winners on the front page of the local paper). Remember the brutal efficiency Las Vegas lives by. “I used to think I was chasing the real criminals,” says Lt.
Other than Kathleen Budz and her husband, the first to know about the $4 million payday were the on-duty monitors at the Reno, Nevada, headquarters of International Game Technology, the world’s largest gaming device manufacturer and the owner of most of the MegaJackpots slots in Vegas. And it may come soon. Harris surreptitiously coded a hidden software switch — tripped by inserting coins in a predetermined sequence — that would trigger cash jackpots. Outside of a military battlefield, there is probably no harsher testing ground for new tech than a gambling floor. Odd thought: Sin City could become the most wired city on Earth, as many of the now discrete networks connect, grow, and spread via the Web.
Harris’ conviction hasn’t stopped copycats.
“A game,” says the R&D director at IGT, Bill Wells, “needs to be productive the moment it hits the casino floor.” The reel-free slots were odd-looking. At IGT’s headquarters, technicians rewound the progressive prize to base level: $1,000,000. The next big payout would come along in about 10 days. Three spinning reels occupy the center of the machine.
Meanwhile, almost every game in Net Vegas is hurrying to catch up to the slots. About 850 video recorders tape all the action.
As her losses mounted to more than $200, Budz fed the machine $5 tokens, pressing the Spin button almost rhythmically — no serious slot player touches the pull handle on a one-armed bandit. The next generation of surveillance technology will be more automated. Software monitors and rewards customer loyalty.
The casinos have responded by racing to build a covert Net Vegas: grids of new eavesdropping tools to monitor everything that goes on in and around the town’s largest hotels. Facial recognition technology scans faces to see if they match computerized records of suspects obtained earlier. Thus, it is important to make a machine that is perceived to present greater chances of payoff than it actually has, within the legal limitations (in which) games of chance must operate.” (italics added).
“You can’t create odds of millions to one on three or four spinners,” Wells says. Players hated them.
“Their pictures and plate numbers were on the six o’clock news that night,” Fischer says. “We’re looking for telltale body language, for acting oddly,” says Pat Fischer, the hotel’s surveillance director. But her husband, standing behind, did. Any view can be transmitted to a quartet of oversize plasma screens where surveillance officers can get the big picture on just about anything happening in almost any area of the hotel (not suites, mind you, but public restrooms are under the eye)