Famous Casino Heists

Most gamblers are familiar with the age-old truism – ‘the house always wins’. For as long as there have been casinos there have been attempts to turn the tables on the house and emerge from casinos millions of dollars richer.
While those who have employed mathematical gambling strategies against the house have met with mixed success, a number of people have realised that the surest way to break the bank is simply to break into it:

1. Bill Brennan and the Stardust Heist

Bill Brennan, a cashier at the Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, executed a particularly audacious casino heist in 1992. Brennan sidestepped the casino’s security by simply packing his rucksack with $500,000 in banknotes and casino chips. He then left for his lunch break with the bag over his shoulder and was never seen again.

2. Caesars Palace

The most successful casino heists tend to rely on casino insiders willing to assist the hustlers in draining the casino dry in return for a slice of the profits. In 1999 a blackjack fraud ring was discovered in the Caesar’s Palace casino in South Africa.
The heist was busted when a bystander reported that the high cards on a blackjack table had been marked, allowing those aware of the markings to play error free blackjack. Needless to say the guilty dealer’s entrepreneurial spirit earned him a gig at the local prison.

3. Lasers at the Ritz

The rapid pace of technological development often plays directly into the hands of those out to defraud casinos. In 2004 three Eastern Europeans were arrested at the Ritz casino in London, after surveillance staff noticed unusual patterns of betting and winning at a roulette table.
Soon thereafter it was discovered that the gamblers had been using state-of-the-art laser equipment and computer software to predict where the ball would fall. Lasers in mobile phones would ‘read’ the ball’s behaviour and then relay this to a remote station that would accurately predict where the ball would land. The scam is believed to have netted over a million pounds before it was detected.

4. Psychic Shoes

A bizarre casino scam played out in the 1970s, involved two physics graduates from the University of California Santa Cruz, who developed a method of cheating that combined computers with shoes. One player, wearing a custom made techno-shoe would stand close to the roulette wheel, allowing his shoe to interfere with the spin of a roulette wheel whilst simultaneously ‘reading’ the wheel’s response, and suggest an appropriate bet.
The second player would then have this information relayed to him via his own shoe and he would bet accordingly. This scheme was not without its drawbacks, as both fraudsters found themselves on the receiving end of unpleasant side effects of the technology, including electric shocks and toasted socks. The two men were eventually busted, after spending months enjoying 144% returns on their roulette bets.

5. A Simple Plan

For those without the skills to develop prescient shoes or mobile phones, there is always the option of straightforward theft, which was precisely the tactic used in one of the most expensive casino heists in history.
Roberto Solis, a former inmate of Folsom Prison, and Heather Tallchief, a cash-in-transit driver, stole a truck packed with $2.5 million from outside the Circus casino in Las Vegas in 1993. The crime led to a 12-year manhunt which eventually resulted in Tallchief handing herself over to the authorities. While Tallchief was punished with a 5-year jail sentence, Solis is yet to be apprehended.

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