Casino Heists

For as long as there has been gambling there has always been people looking to cheat and make quick cash and the introduction of large casinos has only served to further people’s desires to make a quick buck. Down the years, security has developed so much in casinos that it is nigh on impossible to beat the house without being caught and it has led a number of people to believe instead of breaking the house, why not simply break into it. The production of the Ocean’s 11 and 13 films have lead us to believe that robbing a casino is glamorous and extremely high-tech and despite knowing what they doing is wrong the viewer can’t help but want them to win. In reality, the most successful scams have been the simplest. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but rest assured, if you are able to steal big from a casino they won’t let you go without a fight. Here are some of the simple and some of the complicated casino scams ever attempted.

One of the more famous and certainly one of the most successful was the heist perpetrated by former Stardust cashier, Bill Brennan. Brennan had worked as a cashier at the Sportsbook of the Stardust Casino in Las Vegas, one of the more famous establishments in the Nevada gambling Mecca. On what turned out to be his last shift for the casino he casually stuffed his bag with $500,000 worth of cash and chips and calmly walked past security never to be seen again. Once the casino realised what had happened, they issued a search and at one stage the FBI had Brennan on their most wanted list. It was believed that Brennan left the country with his “winnings” although some maintain that he may have been killed by an accomplice shortly after his successful heist. Either way Brennan and the $500,000 have never been seen since.

In 1993, just a year after Brennan’s successful heist, $3 million was stolen from an armoured truck outside the Circus Circus Casino, also in Las Vegas. The duo of Roberto Solis and Heather Tallchief, stole the truck and the money as it waited to be transferred inside to the casino vault. The two then fled the USA taking with them their ill-gotten gains. Not wishing to be unsuccessful in another apprehension of casino thieves, the police launched an investigation and manhunt that lasted 12 years before Tallchief gave herself up, claiming she couldn’t run anymore. Solis, however, wasn’t with her, the story being that he ditched her and took the $3 million leaving her with only $1000 to her name. Tallchief was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

One of the more ingenious casino scams came in the 1970’s where two students from the University of California Santa Cruz, developed a system of cheating that involved the use of computers in their shoes. One of the pair would stand in the vicinity of a roulette wheel and the software in his shoe would interfere with how the wheel was spinning. Whilst disrupting the spin, it would also read how the wheel would respond and suggest a bet. The information would then be passed to his colleague allowing him to place the bet. Despite suffering the occasional electric shock, the two were able to almost triple their money until they were eventually caught.

Further use of gambling technology was discovered at the Ritz casino in London. Three eastern Europeans were thought to have accumulated over £1 million before surveillance teams noticed unusual betting and success and the men were arrested. The trio were using lasers embedded in mobile phones which could track the movements of the roulette ball and then deliver this information to a separate computer terminal that would predict the ball’s final resting point to a high degree of accuracy.

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