How Do Casinos Bust Cheaters?

Man Showing an Ace Card Up His Sleeve and a Casino Surveillance Room

Some gamblers refuse to accept that the casino has an advantage. Instead, they use different means to circumvent the house edge and bring in profits.

Here are the two main routes for making this happen:

  • Advantage gambling
  • Cheating

Advantage play is perfectly legal. You won’t get sent to jail for card counting, but you will get kicked out of the casino if caught.

Cheating is entirely illegal. Gambling establishments will detain you and contact law enforcement. The courtroom will late decide your fate.

Of course, some cheaters are very clever at avoiding detection. But as you’ll see below, casinos have plenty of ways to catch these swindlers.

Staff Members Monitor the Games

The pit boss, the dealers, and the floor supervisors all work in conjunction to catch cheaters. Upon seeing anything suspicious, they can alert security.

Dealers are on the front lines in the casino when it comes to catching scammers. They’re closest to the action and, as a result, can spot fishy play.

Floor supervisors and pit bosses walk around to monitor the action. During the rounds, they may notice something irregular and uncover cheating.

A Busy Pit on a Casino Floor

Of course, most casino cheats get away with their scams for a short while. Therefore, no employees may be quick enough to catch them in the act.

However, pit bosses and dealers stand a decent chance at spotting blatant cheating, such as one pulling cards out of a sleeve or stealing chips off the table.

Casinos Run the Numbers

If a casino cheater is any good at their craft, they’ll evade casino detection for a while. In fact, a gambling establishment may not have any idea about they’re being ripped off.

However, casinos have the advantage of reviewing their numbers and figuring out where are they’re taking heavy losses.

The house gets beat by certain gamblers every day. They don’t mind either, because the hope of winning brings people through the doors in the first place. But the casino also realizes that they have a long-term advantage. They don’t get beat by the average gambler again and again on a consistent basis.

If management reviews the numbers and finds that they’re getting beaten badly in a specific game, they know that something is up. Here’s an example on how they might figure out that the casino is losing serious money:

  • A casino wins 10% of all money gambled at a craps table on average.
  • They review the numbers and find that they’ve lost 5% in craps over an entire month.
  • Management theorizes that one or more players are sliding the dice.

The numbers alone won’t tell a casino who, if anybody, is cheating. They can at least use the data, though, to start on the right path towards catching potential cheaters or advantage players.

As I’ll cover later, greed often gets the better of a cheater. They take advantage of casinos again and again before finally getting caught.

Surveillance Provides Help From Above

Casinos surveillance has cameras in nearly every corner of their gambling floors. They especially focus on areas where cheating might occur.

Table games are hotspots for where cheaters operate. The latter can use a variety of illicit means to bilk games like roulette and blackjack.

As mentioned before, employees may not always catch this cheating. However, surveillance gives security an opportunity to go back and review the footage.

Black Dome Encased Ceiling Camera

With hours’ worth of footage, a casino can take as long as they need to determine where they’re being scammed. They have the ability to watch and rewind the tape countless times if need be.

Not even surveillance footage catches everything. It does, however, give casinos the benefit of hindsight when identifying potential grifters.

RFID Chips Help Casinos Follow the Money

In recent years, casinos have been employing radio-frequency identification (RFID). Gambling establishments use this technology in chips.

RFID chips allow casinos to track chip movements. The house uses these chips for the following purposes:

  • Track gamblers’ betting habits and specialize their VIP rewards
  • Improve marketing efforts
  • Track robbers and stolen chips
  • Catch advantage gamblers
  • Catch cheaters

The last point is key to this discussion. Through the use of RFID chips, casinos can track customer win patterns. Upon noticing somebody winning at an unbelievable rate, they can pay closer attention to the situation.

Bellagio Las Vegas 25,000 Dollar Chip

Hot streaks happen, and some lucky gamblers haul in massive amounts of money. However, these same win streaks eventually come to an end.

The casino holds the edge in every game and fully realizes that nobody will beat them night after night—at least not legitimately anyways. They can easily separate an anomaly from the average hot streak.

In the latter case, a gambler’s luck eventually runs out if they keep showing up. Meanwhile, a cheat will keep winning thousands of dollars each time that they play.

Casinos don’t catch such anomalies with normal chips. RFID chips, on the other hand, give them an additional weapon in spotting weird win patterns.

The House Takes Advantage of Cheaters’ Greed

Most cheaters aren’t experts in this discipline. Otherwise, they’d use their smarts and skills to become legitimate professional gamblers, rather ripping off the casino.

Cheaters may start out with the intentions of scamming the casino a few times before quitting and banking their profits. But once the money starts rolling in, few crooks can resist the temptation to stay out of the casino.

I’ve seen plenty of dealer-player collusion scandals where the cheating team simply didn’t know when to say when. They were successful the first few times and continued using their advantage to make more and more money.

Again, casinos frequently look at their numbers to see if anything strange sticks out. Assuming they see a certain roulette table taking heavy losses, for example, they might start reviewing the footage for signs of magnets or past-posting.

If every cheater were smart, they’d quit while they were ahead before casinos become wiser. Most aren’t, though, which is why they continue their crooked ways until getting busted.

Casinos Help Each Other out With Databases

Gambling establishments have been networking with each other ever since the 1980s, when the MIT blackjack team terrorized the industry. Of course, the MIT blackjack team was counting cards, which is a legal advantage gambling method.

However, casinos don’t just network with one another to catch advantage gamblers. They also do so when it comes to identifying cheaters.

Many casinos are connected to databases that allow them to share information on cheats and advantage players. They can simply refer to a given database to identify suspects.

Of course, cheating teams are often good at wearing disguises. If they’re smart, they’ll also avoid signing up for VIP programs or doing anything else to surrender their identification.

In some cases, though, gambling establishments will catch a cheater through database information alone. Aside from helping casinos identify scammers, databases also serve as a deterrent from a cheater ever walking into a casino again.

Conclusion

Cheaters can gain the upper hand on casinos initially. They may even get away with a caper if they’re smart and quit early enough.

However, casinos have plenty of tools at their disposal for nabbing cheaters. Their employees, surveillance, numbers, and RFID chips all help expose cheating scandals.

Even with these tools, though, gambling venues aren’t guaranteed to spot swindlers. But they have an excellent chance of doing so if the same cheaters get greedy and keep showing up.