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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Beating Roulette With Computers & Lasers 219

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the games-people-play-for-cold-hard-cash dept.
MeerCat writes "The BBC are reporting that a group of gamblers who won more than £1m at the Ritz Casino by using laser technology have been told by police they can keep their winnings. A laser scanner linked to a computer was allegedly used to gauge numbers likely to come up on the roulette wheel. Of course this could be Labour spin to try and get people excited about the idea of cheating at mega casinos"
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Beating Roulette With Computers & Lasers

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  • Labour spin? Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PHPgawd (744675) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @12:51PM (#11001624)
    Of course this could be Labour spin to try and get people excited about the idea of cheating at mega casinos.
    Can somebody tell me what this means? Why would Labour (which I assume to mean the UK Labour Party) want to get people excited about cheating at mega casinos?
    • Re:Labour spin? Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 05, 2004 @12:53PM (#11001635)
      The UK Labour party intends to legalise large "American style" casinos, which are currently illegal in the UK. The bill faces stiff oposistion.
    • Re:Labour spin? Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by happyhippy (526970) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @12:56PM (#11001652)
      They are planning to allow the opening of several Las Vegas style super casinos around the UK which dont exist here. Currently casinos are limited to small rooms and crowds and are overly regulated. Funnily enough its the Las Vegas casinos who lobbied the idea in the first place.

      Though recently they backed off from the idea by reducing the number of initial casinos to about six (I cant remember the original number) as there are fears here that they'd cause more crime and more poverty in the surrounding area due to the envitable rise in gambling addiction.

      • Re:Labour spin? Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by StateOfTheUnion (762194) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:07PM (#11001700) Homepage
        . . . as there are fears here that they'd cause more crime and more poverty in the surrounding area due to the envitable rise in gambling addiction.


        Why would mega-casinos cause gambling addction to rise in the UK? . . . a country where there are bingo parlors, casinos, slot machines and bookmakers (bookies for you yanks) already legal and seemingly found throughout the country.

        Are we somehow to assume that the siren's call of a megacasino is somehow more compelling than that of the bookmaker and bingo parlor located round the corner?

        • by Dizzle (781717) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:18PM (#11001754) Journal
          IANAGAE (I am not a gambling addiction expert) but to me, it would seem far more likely that someone could get addicted to a megacasino with it's flashing lights, sounds, atmosphere, progressive jackpots, everything. They're just much slicker than anything else that people are used to and as such, it's far easier to become addicted. So yeah, I guess that would be a safe assumption.
          • Re:Labour spin? Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Garak (100517)
            Here in NF, Canada we have problems with gambling addiction and VLT's in the back of bars. The VLT's are goverment regulated cash cow for all parties except the people playing them ofcourse.

            Every bar has a few video lottery terminals in the back and they are very accessable for people to use day to day. Rather than going to a big mega casino which usually requires a special trip its right there. And thus it the VLT's are easy to get addicted to.

            I've only ever used them once, I put in $2 and pulled out $2
            • Not to be negative, (Score:2, Interesting)

              by mindstrm (20013)
              but stories about how "the only time I played I put in $2 and made $20" help fuel that gambling addiction.

              It's the few people who win at casinos that give the rest hope.

              • So, you're saying that an anecdote about playing a few times and then stopping is going to promote problem gambling more than one about playing every day?

                People don't need to hear other people's sucess stories to get hooked on anything. Trust me.
                • " People don't need to hear other people's sucess stories to get hooked on anything. Trust me."

                  Yeah, but if they hear alot of failure stories they're more likely to be discouraged from doing it in the first place.

            • Yep, same with me. When I was a small child I was interested in playing one (flashy colors, whooo!), so my dad explained how it worked and I got a quarter. First time: bingo! I've been in the plus ever since, and I am trying to keep it that way :)
          • Currently in the UK, gambling only attracts gambling addicts. With American-style casinos, they'll start giving you free beer when you gamble, allowing them to cash in on gambling *AND* alcohol addicts.
        • Re:Labour spin? Huh? (Score:2, Informative)

          by c4miles (249464)
          Currently UK slot machine jackpots are capped (I think some machines can go up to £100). The new super-casinos will be allowed slots with effectively unlimited jackpots, like Vegas. I believe this is the main source of worry for the campaigners.
    • As others have said, that comment is because of upcoming changes in gambling laws in the UK, which may mean big casinos being built.

      However, saying that this report is Labour spin is like saying that reports on suicide bombings in Iraq are 'Democratic spin'. It's not, it's news.

    • Re:Labour spin? Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mikael (484) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @02:26PM (#11002140)
      Can somebody tell me what this means? Why would Labour (which I assume to mean the UK Labour Party) want to get people excited about cheating at mega casinos?

      Gambling in casino's in the UK is restricted to private casinos, where you have to register as a member 24 hours before being allowed to make any bets. There are betting shops (bookies) which allow people to make bets on races, but they have to keep the inside of the shop obscured (usually by posters) to avoid anyone falling to temptation. Many pubs and nightclubs have the odd slot machine (fruit machine) with the spinning reels, but they don't really rake in more than maybe 300 pounds a week, and have to have the theme changed every 4-5 weeks, otherwise the punters lose interest. There's also the traditional beach arcades, where you could play various skill games for a pound coin.

      The Labour party was caught out with some dodgy visits to and from the Los Vegas casino owners, over the "tightening of gambling laws". The argument goes that since the Internet is allowing people to gamble from home or work, they need new legislation to ban the slot machines from pubs/night clubs, and that these should be replaced by dozens of new super-casinos able to set up all across the UK, especially in deprived areas. The Labour party spin is that this would allow the average UK member of the public to share in the glamour of high society gambling (image of men in tuxedo's and women in elegant evening gowns), although in reality the casinos would simply have hundreds of electronic slot machines linked up for national prizes.

      Given the land shortage in the UK, there are far more practical uses for regenerated industrial sites. These include health and fitness centres, shopping malls, conference centres, office blocks, mixed-income housing, with casinos right at the bottom of the list. Especially since there is no real public demand for more casinos.

      And there is also a growing public suspicion that New Labour seems to disregard anyone or any business who atttempts to earn a basic living (let alone make a fortune) from honest hard work, but is only interested in people who are prepared to recklessly gamble their own money eg. the obsession with getting "young people" to become entrepeneurs, or getting experienced senior managers to remortgage their homes in order to set up their own companies, or having multi-millionaires buy out companies with declining sales, and simply rebrand everyone and everything with uniforms and company logos.
      • I can't see the problem. The 24 hour membership requirement is just a nanny state restriction on people being allowed to enjoy their leisure. It doesn't get in the way of habitual gamblers, because they are already signed up at the local casinos. What it does do is get in the way of people on holiday, or travelling on business that want to while away an evening in a casino. It's a restriction that belongs back in the 1950s.

        As for regeneration, that all depends on where it is. There is a damn good rege

      • Become a religious zealot and move to the US!
    • Of course this could be Labour spin to try and get people excited about the idea of cheating at mega casinos.

      Can somebody tell me what this means? Why would Labour (which I assume to mean the UK Labour Party) want to get people excited about cheating at mega casinos?


      On one hand, any publicity is good publicity. But more specifically, letting these people keep the money may give the average person the impression that maybe they can try their hand at a laser-roulette scam, or perhaps maybe a card coun
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @12:52PM (#11001627)
    Unless they were using a laser to shoot the ball into the number they wanted, there's nothing at all illegal about this in the U.S., and I'm heartened to read the U.K. either.

    "No more bets... And the number is 7... ZAP! I mean 19... ZAP! I mean 22... ZAP! I mean 13... ZAP! I mean 3... The winner is 3! You win again."
    • by mindstrm (20013) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:27PM (#11001791)
      Except in Nevada where using electronic calculating devices to assist casino play is illegal.

      • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @02:09PM (#11002052) Homepage
        Well...in Nevada, winning is pretty much illegal. If you're in a game with a guaranteed negative outcome (which Roulette certainly is), and you win, that's prima facie evidence that you're cheating. Just try to leave the casino with your winnings. They'll keep you in a back room and review the tapes until they can figure out what you were doing.

        Ask anyone who's worked in the "gaming" industry. There are NO winners. Sure, the occasional jackpot or lucky player, but that's just advertising.

        • Put all your money on black, did you?
        • by IdleTime (561841) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @04:16PM (#11002761) Journal
          That is why you need to stay away from all the bad games. Only play on 100%+ payback systems or play where the house don't have the advantage.

          When visiting Las Vegas, I always end up in the back where the high stakes poker tables are. You pay the rake to the casino and unload thick wads of money from other "unsuspecting" tourists who have seen poker on TV :) Never left Las Vegas without a nice paycheck, so to speak, but I never play slots, roulette or any other game designed to give the casino an edge. If you lose money in a casino, you have nodbody but yourself to blame. learn about the various games before you play and know which ones give the best chances of payback or stear clear of all the sucker games.
        • No, no, no, there are lots of winners: The casino, the casino, and the casino.

          Face it, anyone who gambles in a casino "to win" is a mug. Although the odds are a bit better than lottery, so are the stakes.

          Two exceptions: Poker, where you're trying to find bigger mugs than yourself, and blackjack, where you can theoretically get an edge on the house. In practice, it's difficult, tedious, and a career that will be terminated as soon as you get successful.
    • by nasor (690345)
      " Unless they were using a laser to shoot the ball into the number they wanted, there's nothing at all illegal about this in the U.S., and I'm heartened to read the U.K. either."

      In the U.S. it's illegal to use and sort of electronic computer to 'assist' with casino gambling. The law's main purpose is to prevent card counters from using digital devices to help keep track of which cards have been played, but the law would certainly cover this sort of thing as well.
  • I suspect it will encourage others to try new plans. I also suspect the vast majority of them will fail, which probably turns out well for the casinos in the end.
  • Previous Article (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stubtify (610318) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @12:53PM (#11001636)
    I do believe this is in the same con which slashdot reported a few months ago:

    Roulette Scam [slashdot.org]

    Amazing that they did get to keep the cash, at least slashdot kept up on a story for once.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As an American living in the U.K. I can say that Britain's perception of their gambling is distorted. Sure poker's big in the U.S., and the last few decades have had a dramatic increase in casinos but, the U.K. seems to think that the rest of the world's addicted to gambling and they're responsible. Blair's mega-casinos; case in point.

    The truth is there are slots machines in tons of roadside stops, sports betting shops (ladbrokes, etc) on busy corners, and national lottery ads [adverts] pervasive on t.v.
    • UK resident here.
      I think its about who'll run them, not of the consequences. The Las Vegas casinos were the ones who started this bill in the UK, and so itll be them who'll get the money.
      Most people are seeing that the money will flow out of the UK areas and leaving behind increased crime, poverty and more gambling addicts.
      • It's the New Labour way.

  • check my old comment:
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=101 9 59&cid=869 1466

    "
    Actually their said one beutyful girl was from Hungary with two serb guys. They said they used a mobile-shaped laser-scanning device, but they don't know if it is prohibited.

    http://index.hu/tech/tudomany/ritz040323/
    in hungarian.

    Later they said, that this device cannot exist, as such a device would be least a pc large and needs a calibration of some hours and at least NASA technique to make it.

    So at last, they said, that th
  • Cheating? Bah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by standards (461431) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:02PM (#11001681)
    Casino marketing manager:

    "There is a portion of the population that think that casinos are stupid waste of time because the odds say that the players CAN'T win.

    "Well... time to put a stop to that! Let's tell these smarties that very smart people that study the roulette wheel a lot can predict where the ball will land with some kind of accuracy. We'll suggest that people can tilt the odds in their favor! Haha!

    "But we all know that the steps to winning are:

    1. Get out casino mentioned in the news and in faux "cheating vegas" documentaries.
    2. Encourage these smarties to get themselves to the casino and play some roulette. Those smarties will think they are "honing their predictive capabilities."
    3. Profit!

    Heck, it worked for Blackjack... let's get them into roulette too!
    • God knows how you got modded informative for that crap. There's a well documented history of people using devices to cheat in casinos.
  • Not the first to try (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrSkwid (118965) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:09PM (#11001709) Homepage Journal

    see
    The Eudaemonic Pie [thomasbass.com]

    or "The Newtonian Casino" as the UK print was called

    • This was a decent book, a precursor to the now more famous "Bringing Down the House", featuring the same brainy, persistent hacker types looking for an exploitable edge. It was a bit of a let down, in that the kids never really made the system pay off on a large scale, despite proving the concept. But the reasons for failing to make the big score are interesting: One, interpersonal issues, which take the story into California hippy culture. And two, the challenge, which slashdot readers will recognize,
  • Getting banned (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anothergene (336420)
    Sounds like a good way to get yourself banned from every Casino on earth. The house ALWAYS wins, just ask the MIT blackjack team.

    • The house ALWAYS wins,

      No, just most of the time. If players never won, the casino would soon find itself out of patrons. They need to have a few BIG winners, and a somewhat larger number of very small winners, and a larger number of losers.

      51%(house)-49%(players) is enough, given enough volume. I've seen this sign "Our slots pay 98%!" That means they keep 2% overall.

      Those flashing lights and bells when you win are there to generate desire to win. "Hey...he did it..maybe I can." And sometimes someone does.

    • Break the bank and you draw attention. Be tonights lucky winner and you walk away with a small fortune. The house doesn't always win. If you think that your an idiot who needs to study basic economy. The house wins more then it loses. If it wins a million but loses half a million to you it is still making a profit. That is the entire trick of running a casino. Making sure that people do win but that the house wins a little bit more.

      So an individual can win and casino's even like that. It makes the rest of

    • by Deanasc (201050) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @04:05PM (#11002682) Homepage Journal
      That was the old MIT team that got caught. They're not on to the new team yet.
    • Why not ask one of the many teams that have got away with it over long periods of time. Oh that's right, you can't because you don't know who they are.
  • by EvilMidnightBomber (778018) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:22PM (#11001770) Homepage
    It was in a cell phone [casinoguru.net]
    And some theory [newscientist.com] behind it from the previous slashdot article.
  • by panurge (573432) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:32PM (#11001809)
    Isn't the whole point that this would not be possible if the house had a completely fair wheel? It could not be beyond the wit of engineering to produce a roulette wheel whose outcome, if not random, had such a small deviation from randomness that it would take a very long time to detect it. In any case, provided the non-randomness is below a quite high level, players will lose in the long run. They will lose faster in the US, land of the double-zero, but they will still lose.

    If it is possible to win by detecting non-randomness then the wheel, or the process for using it, is bent.

    My main objection to casinos is not that they provide a place for gambling - people will do this, and it is probably better that they do this in a way subject to some sort of regulation - but that reported incidents suggest they do not run fair games, and that the stacking of the odds on e.g. fruit machines is probably intended to fuel gambling addiction. It's like the alcohol industry producing alcoholic fruit drinks to get kids hooked, or just about any strategy of the tobacco industry. If the casino gets caught by someone using statistical analysis, the law should not protect them from their own dishonesty.

    • It could not be beyond the wit of engineering to produce a roulette wheel whose outcome, if not random, had such a small deviation from randomness that it would take a very long time to detect it.

      Shhhh! They did, it's called the 0. (you did actually reference it also)
    • they don't have to guess the right slot via this mechanism to win. They just have to narrow down the possible choices in order to tilt the odds in their favor.
    • I can't speak for casinos in other areas, but the casinos in Indiana, where I worked for 2+ years, are heavilly regulated. The only industry in Indiana that has more regulations is the nucular industry according to the casino. As you note, it is impossible to have a completely random wheel. I mean, Indiana casinos are on boats and even though they stay docked, they still are actual boats and I'm sure the weight of 2-3 thousand customers and employees is enough to shift the boat ever so slightly, so it is
    • by MyNameIsFred (543994) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @02:00PM (#11002012)
      ...Isn't the whole point that this would not be possible if the house had a completely fair wheel?...

      Your preception of what they did is wrong. What makes the roulette wheel work is that no one, with the naked eye, can measure the initial conditions well enough to predict the outcome. From the articles discussed in various links, the group apparently used a laser to measure spin rate and other variables when the roullette wheel was set in motion. Then a computer estimated the final position of the ball. They had a brief window in which to do this. Bets must be placed before the wheel spins three times. If the reports are true, they could do this on a completely fair wheel.

      In other words, they were NOT looking at long term averages and saying, for this wheel, the ball lands an unusual number of times on 6. They were looking at the initial conditions of the spin and used to physics to say on the spin, the ball will likely land here. They reduced the odds from 1 in 32 to 1 in 6.

      • the group apparently used a laser to measure spin rate and other variables when the roullette wheel was set in motion. Then a computer estimated the final position of the ball. They had a brief window in which to do this. Bets must be placed before the wheel spins three times. If the reports are true, they could do this on a completely fair wheel.

        Now _this_ is the most admirable feat I'v heard of in a long time..!

        Kudos to the team that managed to do somthing like this

        This is money well earnt!

    • It could not be beyond the wit of engineering to produce a roulette wheel whose outcome, if not random, had such a small deviation from randomness that it would take a very long time to detect it.

      It's been done, against the house! I remember reading about an engineer that used the non-random aspect of the real-world imperfect table to locate a table within the casino that had a bias. He used this and may have broken the bank.

      Jeez, just googled for it, found it! From this [thegoodgam...uide.co.uk] page:

      In the late nineteenth

  • This approach to beating roulette was first approached back in the 1980s. The Eudaemonic Pie is a classic hacker tale and should not be missed if you can find a copy.
  • by bizitch (546406) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @01:54PM (#11001968) Homepage
    they would let me keep my slot machine winnings I got with that HERF gun ....

  • My opinion? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gothic_Walrus (692125) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @02:34PM (#11002177) Journal
    Good for them. They were intelligent enough to make it work, and they've earned what they won.

    Was it fair? No. But it's theirs now.

  • Spin (Score:3, Funny)

    by 6Yankee (597075) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @02:57PM (#11002299)

    Of course this could be Labour spin...

    Spin. Roulette. Heh.

  • THis is so sweet!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Foktip (736679) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @03:14PM (#11002385)
    THis is what happens whe you dont pay mathematicians or engineers enough. THey go and do something insane, and everyone else doesnt know what to make of it, heheheh. Seriously though, developing that kind of program - to calculate the precise number of rotations on a spinning wheel - is the perfect example of high level engineering. I've done many questions like that only instead of Gambling wheels, it was vehicle wheels. Once you know the accelleration and the velocity at time 0, you just use standard energy equations. If you want to get fancy with your program you could figure out the oil used and the shaft used, and add in the known values for friction, etc (all this is available in charts/tables). THen all you need is the time for one full rotation, the size of the wheel and its weight (initial conditions) which you could find after two test runs with the laser velocity/accelleration finder. After that, you could make, say, a device that all you do is click a button when it starts spinning, click again after half a rotation or a full rotation, then it displays the winning number on a screen. Then, if you have an electrical engineer around, you could make into its own embedded device with a screen, about the size of a watch. Voila - El Cheaterwatch. The best thing since the Black Box. Who needs the ability to make free phone calls when you can win millions of dollars gambling, booyah.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So what's next, oh wise British lawmakers? Marking cards on Carribean Draw legal? Pre-arranging with the dealer to load a baccarat shoe with front-faces legal? Soft-spinning a Sicbo wheel legal? Collusion in poker legal?

    These are cheaters, plain and simple. Why would we think them any different?
    • No, I don't think it's plain and simple.

      The goal of roulette is to try to guess where the ball will land, and to bet accordingly. These people simply used technology to make better guesses than everyone else.

      There is a huge difference between people who break the rules, and people who exploit a loophole in the rules.

      If the rules clearly stated (like the do in Nevada) that you cannot use electronic devices to predict the outcome of a game, then they would be cheating. But if there is no rule about it, t
  • Warning!!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @03:59PM (#11002650)
    Do not try this (using laser pointers that is... ) with the Russian "variety" of Roulette. While its sure to improve your aim and your chances of "winning" you might find yourself losing out on life a bit!
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday December 05, 2004 @04:28PM (#11002848) Homepage
    Now that the basic principles are understood, it should be possible to reprogram a camera phone with a fast processor to do the same job.

    It has to find and register the wheel, which is an object of known form. Lane Hawk [evolution.com] could do this. It then has to find and track the ball, which is not too hard (try the Lucas-Kanade feature tracker in OpenCV) and extract position and velocity. Given that information, prediction is possible.

    Now that 3D game capability is going into camera phones, there's enough processing power in phones to consider this. It can all be done with passive sensors. You don't need lasers.

    • It'd never work. The programmable side of smartphones are not and never will be real time. You can request a photo to be taken, and you'll receive the picture back but you can't say with any degreee of accuracy when the picture was taken. Even if you made an equivalent but real time device in a phone shell, it's still the case that laser positioning will be more accurate and faster to analyse than image processing.
  • Now how do I make it work with my online casino?
  • by AEC216 (621410) on Monday December 06, 2004 @07:58AM (#11006517)
    I have been dealing most of the house games (Roulette, Blackjack, Carribean, 3 Card poker,..) now, out in a St. Louis, MO, for about 6 monthes. I am on a "make money for a new degree" detour. The midwest hasn't been to kind lately.

    A wheel dealer with about 1-2 years experience, is generally good enough to hit quadrants (groups of 9 #'s) and sectors (groups of 6 #'s). The casino I work for wants about a spin every 90 seconds under a full table (12 players). If you are a dealing during busy hours all the time (evenings) that is still 1200 spins a week.

    I know of 2 dealers, each with about 10 years of experience, that are capable of hitting numbers about 1/3 times.

    Remember to tip your dealer. We are more than happpy to give away the casino's money if you help us too.

    If you are cheap asshole, don't be surprised when they change out dealers on you. All of a sudden your numbers stop hitting, (anything you play will stop hitting).

    Interesting note, The board ( the display of the numbers that have come up in the last 10-15 spins) is ranked the biggest improvement in gambling technology in 20 years by most casinoes.
    "Oh, number is going to hit next"
    Suckers love flashing, colorful lights. (Slots fall here too)
    The roulette table has no memory, each spin is a new event.

    Oh, the stories I could tell after only 6 monthes, I really have a bad out look on the human race as whole from these experiences.

    It is fun to play a game that you are statically stacked to win for 8 hours a day! If I don't like you , I take your money.

Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fill the time alloted it.

Working...