There have been many gambling scandals in Las Vegas over the years and that, in short, should really come as no surprise — it’s the mecca of entertainment, after all. Making a list of the biggest ones, therefore, kind of feels nigh impossible.
How does one even begin? Which criteria should one employ? How can we ever navigate such murky waters?
It sure is a tall order but by no means is it impossible. Down below you’ll find a curated list of the biggest gambling scandals that have ever rocked Las Vegas. We tried our hardest to be as objective and thorough as possible but, again, there were so many to choose from that a few gems must’ve flown under the radar.
In any case, these scandals serve as a warning and proof that, in the end, everyone gets caught no matter how careful (or seemingly ingenious) they might be.
Or, well, almost everyone, but more on that down below!
Rigging Slots For Almost Twenty Years
Those who are privy to the biggest Las Vegas gambling scandals already know the name Tommy Glenn Carmichael.
He had managed to steal millions upon millions of dollars by rigging slot machines in numerous different ways; this list of “patents” includes his now infamous “monkey’s paw.” As slot machines became more and more elaborate, so did Tommy’s rigging efforts. He was eventually caught by the FBI and subsequently banned by the Nevada Gaming Commission from entering casinos for life.
The Roselli Brothers
A list of the biggest gambling scandals simply wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the “Roselli brothers.” We’re putting that in quotes as their real identities are still unknown even to this day.
What the “Roselli brothers” pulled off from 1995 to 2000 is a true feat of ingenuity.
Their nefarious idea revolved around identity theft. A hacker friend of theirs researched folks with stellar credit records and then opened brand new bank accounts in their names. And so whenever casinos checked their credit histories they were always greeted with picture-perfect results — no one suspected a thing.
After “winning” a total of $37 million, the “Roselli brothers” disappeared without a trace. Unlike many others, these two individuals obviously knew when to stop — their hubris didn’t get the better of them.
The “MIT Blackjack Team”
For almost twenty years, a team comprised of standout students from prominent colleges — MIT and Harvard, primarily — took card counting to a whole ‘nother level. The whole operation was led by a guy named Bill Kaplan.
He had supposedly trained more than a hundred players during those twenty years and had also cashed out many a million for his efforts. The best part? Counting cards in Blackjack wasn’t illegal; they were just ahead of “the game.”
A Few Key Lines of Code
Ron Harris was a software engineer working for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. His job? Wholly vital: he was tasked with creating anti-cheating software.
THEY WENT TOO FAR
Unfortunately, he gave in to temptation and actually wrote a few lines of code that would “proc” a jackpot whenever the user would insert coins in a specific sequence.
He also had numerous accomplices who helped in his nefarious endeavors — i.e. cheating casinos out of their money. Their greed eventually got the better of them which led to Harris spending seven years in prison.