Two Americans, Ronald Dale Harris and Reid Errol McNeal have gone down in history as two of the biggest slot machine software cheats of all time.
Slot Machine Software Cheats
Ronald Dale Harris and Reid Errol McNeal were charged during January of 1995 with attempted theft by deception, computer theft and conspiracy. New Jersey State Police had gathered sufficient information and evidence to charge both of these slot machine software cheats. They had scooped a Keno jackpot win of $100,000 from Bally’s Park Casino.
It all began when Harris started working at the Nevada Gaming Control Board during the early 1990’s. His job was to analyse the software used in slot machines and detect any bugs in the system. Part of his role was to visit casinos across Las Vegas checking slot machines for problems.
It did not take him long to work out that he could erase the system memory and replace microchips which he had programmed to payout a sum of his choice when coins were inserted in his chosen order. The sequence of coin insertions to trigger a jackpot was made complicated to prevent the chances of a natural jackpot win by a random player. The software modification instigated by Harris involved reprogramming the random number generator in the machine. Harris had the password to access the software to do that. The password was highly secret but Harris needed it to conduct his work.
The Partnership – Ronald Dale Harris and Reid Errol McNeal
Obviously Harris was known to Casino staff all over Nevada so he could not be a substantial jackpot winner. Harris turned to his old high school best mate to help him. Fortunately for Harris, McNeal had just lost his job and he desperately needed money.
So, the lot machine software cheats formed a secret 50/50 partnership and set out to defraud a casino. McNeal would be the fraudulent gambler. Initially, Harris had set the software for moderately high wins so as not to attract too much attention from the casinos. The wins were a couple of thousand dollars each time.
The Slot Machine Crime
It was during January 1995 when Ronald Dale Harris and Reid Errol McNeal booked a room at the Bally’s Park Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. The plan was to win $100,000 dollars on a Keno machine using a coin sequence programmed by Harris. McNeal had to insert $100 in sequence to trigger the jackpot. The jackpot odds were 230,000 to 1.
Whilst Harris remained in the hotel room, McNeal went to play Keno. He was duly served with the famous hundred thousand dollar win. Obviously such a large win attracts attention and the casino managers became suspicious. With their suspicion, they started examining the machine. McNeal was not reacting to his win with any excitement or emotion, of course he was not surprised to win.
The police were called and the officers went to the hotel room where Harris was waiting. McNeal was unable to warn Harris otherwise he might have been able to conceal the electronic equipment Harris had used to rig the Keno machine. They also found his notebook which contained details of the software changes he had made.
You could say these two slot casino cheats were caught red-handed. What happened next might not have been so predictable. McNeal was arrested but Harris managed to sneak out of the hotel before the police had gained sufficient evidence. The police did not comprehend the possibility that they were both slot machine software cheats. Harris was later arrested at the airport after he flew back to Las Vegas.
McNeal agreed to testify against Harris before a Judge and as a result the charges against him were dropped. McNeal walked away free due to his co-operation with the Police.
Harris admitted to Police that there had been other fraudulent wins in other casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Later, he pleaded guilty to over twenty separate accounts of fraud and deception.
Finally, Harris was sentenced to seven years in prison. However, he was released after two years on account of his good behaviour. Harris was also banned by the Nevada Gaming Control Board from entering any casinos within their jurisdiction.
They both became known at the slot machine software cheats but in reality McNeal played only a small part in facilitating the jackpot win. Both have become famous after giving interviews in TV documentaries which have been aired all over the world.
Read more about casino scams.
Other Gambling Scams which involved criminal activity
The Roselli Brothers who conned the banks and casinos out of 37 million dollars during the 1990’s.
Louis Colavecchio who became an expert forger of casino tokens. He went to prison for seven years and then tried again.
Bill Brennan a casino employee who apparently walked out of a casino at the end of his shift with half a million dollars in casino chips and cash.
Dennis Nikrasch a slot machine cheat who reportedly won more than 15 million dollars over time.
Monique Laurent a Roulette cheat who worked with her brother to electronically control the outcome of the spin.
Ida Summers a casino worker who learned to re-arrange the cards so that the punters won.
Richard Marcus who won hundreds of thousands of dollars by manipulating casino chips.
Tommy Carmichael who manipulated slot machines to win. He is now a reformed character an works as a slot machine security consultant.
A Blackjack card counting scam which enabled a group of students to win millions of dollars from US casinos.
A card cheating mobile phone which can scan and read a deck of cards, discovered by Google.