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Video Poker Is taking advantage of a VP software bug a crime?

Discussion in 'Video Poker' started by Kickin, May 2, 2013.

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  1. Kickin

    Kickin Flea

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  2. tongni

    tongni Tourist

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    The idea that this guy was just fooling around and found some lucky keypresses that yielded a jackpot is not accurate. From what I understand (all second hand information):

    You bet the minimum denomination on the game.

    You must have the double up feature enabled on the game. These guys were VERY aggressive about getting the double up feature enabled to take advantage of the exploit (use your imagination).

    Once you hit a winning hand, you input a complicated series of button presses. I think I've heard it said you need to put a ticket in as well. Once you do this, it changes it to the maximum denomination and maximum coins set on the machine.

    It's not some random glitch in the game. It's a hidden backdoor exploit carefully left in by someone at IGT. Is it possible that this guy could have come up with the correct sequence himself? Not impossible, but I am highly skeptical. In my opinion, it is extremely likely that he was told the exploit by someone. I have no doubt that the GCB knows this and is just trying to find something a jury will convict him on. It may be a very hard sell, however. To me, this is no different than a high-tech version of putting your hand in the hopper.
     
  3. Mitkraft

    Mitkraft High-Roller

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    Great read! I've always been conflicted about things like that. The gaming of gaming machines seems less like a crime than just simply beating the house. Plus some of the penalties seem excessive like the guy who got 3 years for grabbing a bunch of email addresses that ATT left vulnerable. Of course prosecuters are WAY more interested in the letter of the law than the are the spirit.
     
  4. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    I am sorta torn on this issue. The "beat the casino" part of me says they should get off completely. But if this was an ATM spitting out money at you, you would be punished by spending the money...so...

    If they are found guilty of anything, the punishment should be really light though, mostly restitution.
     
  5. Mitkraft

    Mitkraft High-Roller

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    I've heard people compare a faulty gaming machine with a faulty ATM also but I think that is a completely off-base analogy.

    An ATM machine is only for pulling money from YOUR account and only to the extent that YOUR account is allowed. There is no inherent risk of loss, you aren't competing with the bank, and there is no "game" to be had.

    On the other hand a gaming machine is just that, a GAMING machine. My job is to beat that machine and WIN more money than I put in. Granted what these guys did is go a step further since they took advantage of a glitch in the payout setup, but its also easy to think lightly of since the whole point if the machine is to take your money (from the casino perspective) or to win you money (from your perspective).
     
  6. CrazyCanuck

    CrazyCanuck Tourist

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    Interesting read to say the least. I remember reading a thread a few days ago discussing how some players couldn’t find the double up option anymore, I suspect we found the reason.

    Reading the article I can’t figure out why the prosecutors are going after him for hacking. He didn’t alter the odds, pay table or any aspect of the machine and wasn’t in a position to be able to know or alter the code, chips or computer. Maybe the prosecutors are interested in setting a precedent or determining the application of this ancient (by computer terms) statute in the current time but I just don’t see how this can be hacking when all he did was “push some buttons he was legally allowed to push” (in the words of his attorney).

    Seems to me that if this is a crime it’s fraud. I like the analogy triglomane used above of an ATM spitting out money. If it happens once without your knowledge it’s an innocent mistake (and civilly you have to pay the money back). However if you consciously and continuously (the continual action goes to the proving of the conscious action) go back to the same ATM and use the glitch to get free money you’re knowingly taking money you know you have no right to, that’s fraud. I see the same thing here, he knew he wasn’t entitled to the money but he actively caused the malfunction to happen and kept taking the money. You can (and he will) argue that the game was on the casino floor and so the casino was offering to allow anyone to press the buttons and take their chances but I think his actions amount to fraud.

    It will be interesting to see if he’s found guilty and what the penalty is. The casinos who lost big may be waiting for the criminal trial to finish before launching their own civil trial for restitution of the funds lost or they may know he doesn't have anything left but want to see him hang as a warning others.
     
  7. Kickin

    Kickin Flea

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    I completely agree with Mitkraft about the ATM analogy. I can see why people would use it but I don't think its fair for the reasons he outlined.

    Personally I think it is very unfair for anyone to be punished for taking advantage of a mistake in a casino game which they had no part in creating. Whether it be a biased roulette wheel, bug in VP software, bug in RNG software like that one guy discovered on some keno machines, or a problem in the cards like what happened at the Golden Nugget in AC with the unshuffled baccarat shoe, etc. Just like card counting is not illegal neither should discovering any other way to beat a casino game without manipulating it yourself. The casinos can 86 you, but you shouldn't be charged with a crime or have to pay back your profits.

    I suspect CrazyCanuck is right about the prosecutors just trying to use the only statute they can think might have a chance of holding up. Nonetheless I'm sure this will lead to more laws on the books aimed at prosecuting something like this if it happens again.
     
  8. theotherone

    theotherone Low-Roller

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    That is just...wow. I would freak out if I was playing a game and discovered a bug like that. I dont think I could do much with it though, knowing how well they watch casinos now.

    Good story, I hope to see some follow up to find what happens.
     
  9. Mitkraft

    Mitkraft High-Roller

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    Me to on both accounts. I wonder how different it would be if he just visited the casino/machine on occasion and exploited the bug. I think where they really messed up was organizing a "ring" to take advantage of and exploit it to a much greater degree.
     
  10. BCeagle

    BCeagle Tourist

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    Not guilty. Move on. Crappy thing to do, but he should have kept it to himself.
     
  11. undathesea

    undathesea Grandissimo

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    If the opposite were true and the casino was accidentally taking money from customers like this, would they be criminally responsible?

    Perhaps fined, but I guarantee no one is going to jail over a simple mistake in the software of the machine.
     
  12. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    He was also a little dumb to exploit the bug to the point of W2-G triggering. I would think if he did a ~$1000 hit a couple of times a week, it would have gone unnoticed for a longgggggggggggg time and they wouldn't have any record of how much damage he has done unless he used a player's card and they were able to dig the win/loss results from there. Or take a Vegas trip occasionally and pull it off at various casinos once per trip. But people get greedy obviously.

    Yeah, if it's considered to be unintentional, then only a fine at best. But if it would come about that the glitch was just left there intentionally, then I would expect criminal charges and losing their license. Or at least I would hope.
     
  13. Reston

    Reston VIP Whale

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    Very ingenious of them. I guess I would feel different if they were exploiting a glitch that increased their odds of getting favorable cards, but in this case they were turning a legitimate $820 win into a illegitimate $8200 payout. And, of course, they got greedy....

    A couple of personal incidents. I found a "bug" of sorts at a small video poker bank at Sam's Town in Tunica years ago. It was a nickel machine that paid credits like it was quarter machine. It was so obviously an error that I reported it, and the only other guy playing made a quick beeline for the exit when security showed up, so he apparently had been at it for a while. He's probably still pissed at me.

    More recently, I found a VP machine at the bar at Mirage that was set to pay the progressive jackpot for five coins in instead of the normal 10. (These are the quarter machines, but with 10 coins act more like a 50-cent machine; the jackpot often is $3k to $4k.) I didn't say anything and played it for a long time. The bartender kept coming over and looking at the machine while I was there but didn't say anything either. When I came back the next day, though, that machine had been changed to 10 coins in for the jackpot.
     
  14. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Yeah, tattletale...lol Wonder how long he had been at it, that was a huge opportunity as well for those that have poor ethics slash whose who think the casino deserves to pay for their mistakes. I'm not sure what I would have done in that spot myself. You're definitely the better person than I.

    The worst glitch I found was that the 50 and 100-play penny video poker machines were accidentally programmed to give 5X the normal "status points", I don't even think the machine was set to give 5X comps though. I played those machines when I could (casino was nearly one hour away) for the next 3 or 4 months before the "glitch" was fixed.
     
  15. Rush

    Rush High-Roller

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    If anyone thinks this guy just "happened to stumble" on this incredible string of events that had to occur for him to get paid. Good for you. It's bullshit, through and through.

    Even if he DID accidentally do it the first time, there is no way he would have remembered that sequence. Just as he told his accomplices, someone told him, too. He was just dumb enough to get hand pays, instead of staying under the radar.

    For a long time, I have talked with a friend about how easy it would be for a programmer to embed a code that only he would know about, into these machines. It could sit there forever, and you could tap it whenever you decided the time was right. If a guy is smart enough to only tap a few hundred to a thousand at a clip......who would ever know? Greed always beats them down.

    This guy killed the golden goose for someone.
     
  16. Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

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    This is one of the few times I agree with precedent set by the 9th circuit.

    Prosecutors are overreaching using the 1986 act, but then again government prosecutors can spend unlimited OPM and make their serf subjects defend themselves out of pocket. I hope, and would bet, the CFAA act charges are thrown out (and very well should be).

    Standard fraud is the only legitimate law they should be prosecuted under, and I could go either way without any further evidence not presented in the article / pdf court link.

    If they were actual programmers, IGT employees or accomplices of IGT employees, I would be more apt to vote guilty. Absent any evidence of this, I lean toward not guilty on the fraud charges. The casino offered a game of a chance and they, IGT and casino regulators in several states failed miserably to catch this flaw before 500 large was "won" by the defendants.
     
  17. nostresshere

    nostresshere Mr. Anti Debit Card

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    Before commenting, it is a good idea to read through the news article.

    From what I read, it appears they "hacked" the slot machine/computer. The series of key strokes required is rather complicated and not easily done through normal, or even crazy playing.

    As to the law and hacking, I leave it to lawyers. But, from my simple perspective, they were hacking the system.
     
  18. Kickin

    Kickin Flea

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    I think it only worked if the "manipulated" win triggered a handpay. At least that is the way I read it from the PDF (look at the defense filing exhibit 1 which is the gaming commission engineer's report). I agree if that wasn't the case than it was stupid to trigger a handpay at all. Better to just keep pulling out smaller amounts.

    I remember I used to think about this when I saw some Nicholas Cage movie where he could see a few minutes into the future. Obviously there would be much cooler stuff to do with that power than use it at a casino but I used to think if I did use it at a casino I would probably just stay under the radar and keep winning a few thousand here and there at different casinos letting it add up. You can use it to go and win big but that puts too many eyes on you.

    That depends on how you define hacking. They didn't manipulate the source code or interfere with the software in any way. They simply exploited a loophole in the system pushing buttons they were legally allowed to push. If you noticed on a slot machine that every time you switched from playing 2 spins at 1 credit to a 3rd spin at max credit you won, would you consider that hacking the machine?
     
  19. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Well, that makes more sense then. But they were still greedy with frequency and repetitive hand pays, imo.
     
  20. nostresshere

    nostresshere Mr. Anti Debit Card

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    As you said, they EXPLOITED a loophole. They knew they were beating the system.

    As to "that every time you switched from playing 2 spins at 1 credit to a 3rd spin at max credit you won, would you consider that hacking the machine?".... that is totally different. You could win or loose by moving to higher credits. These guys KNEW what they were doing.
     
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