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A Guide to the Historical View of Cheating at Slots

For as long as there have been slot games, there have been individuals trying to get the better of them with various ingenious cheats. These are now confined to history, the mechanical slots that this kind of cheat worked with was replaced with electronics many years ago.

This page takes you through some of the most ingenious slot cheats in history. What happened to those caught cheating is covered first. After that the old style mechanical cheats are covered. These are split into 3 types for those that worked with the coin slot, the reels and then the coin payout mechanism. Many people feel that slots cheat them, and I have covered this topic below. Finally, some words about the safeguards which stop people from cheating at modern slots, especially those online.

What Were the Sanctions for Slot Cheats?

Back in the day there was a constant battle between the casinos and slot cheats. A new method would become prevalent, and the casinos would find some way of counteracting it. The cheats would then come up with a brand new way of cheating – and so on.

Ultimately, cheating on the slots is fraudulent activity. Many cheats ended up going to jail (not that this necessarily stopped them trying again on their return). The other sanction was that they ended up in the ‘Black Book’ of individuals who were banned from all of the Vegas casinos.

Historical Slots Cheats – 3 Types of Mechanical Devices

The mechanical device that is most familiar is attaching a coin to a piece of wire or string. This would then be inserted into the slot, and quickly retrieved after it triggered a credit. This worked for a while in the early days of slot machines, though a simple safety catch mechanism eventually stopped this one from working.

In a similar way, ‘shaved’ coins had some popularity among cheats during the 1980s. It was found that if you shaved off the corners of a coin in the right way, it would fall through the mechanism, yet still trigger a credit. These coins were literally a token to get free slots play until new mechanisms were introduced making them redundant.

The second type of mechanical device interfered with the reels themselves. These including the famous ‘Monkey Paw’ (named after its shape), which was used to good effect by Tommy Carmichael – between stints in jail. Carmichael also created the ‘top-bottom-joint’ and used this to good effect.

The third weak spot for the old-style slots was the coin dispensing mechanism. If this could be reached via the payout chute, then it could sometimes be jammed open, causing the slot to dispense all of its prize money in one go. Again, wires and contraptions were used to make this happen for many years. Eventually, the slots manufacturers caught up and put safety catches in place, preventing this particular form of cheating.

Even when electronics overtook the purely mechanical slot games, there were devices in use to try and cheat the machines. Devices used flickering light to fool the new technology into paying out more coins.

Nowadays, slots are electronic – and even those which still include a mechanical element have electronic payment systems and fully enclosed cabinets. The opportunities for those people who would like to cheat slots are simply not there anymore.

Cheating at Slots – Do Casinos Cheat their Slots Players?

High on a list of common myths about slot machines is that there is some centrally controlled computerized system which is able to adjust the payout percentages of certain machines. The concept is that you get ‘punished’ after a win by some shady security team who see what machines you are on and set a punitive payout percentage that all but ensures you lose your money.

As often as you might hear some version of this, it is complete nonsense.

Even if casinos were inclined to behave in such a strange way, slots payouts cannot be changed instantly at all. This would involve resetting the machine to a black screen, and reconfiguring the code. Not something that would be possible while you were playing. Keeping machines with too low a payout would also risk the casino losing their license. This is where these theories tend to start sounding crazy. Do people actually believe that a casino would risk the billions they make each year to grab back the $100 you won on one of their slots?

Cheating at Slots – People who Sell ‘Cheat Codes’

There are some cheats still making money from slot machines. They are doing this by preying on gullible individuals who believe that by pressing buttons in a certain order they can win ‘unlimited’ money from online slot games. These people sell cheating systems or information online, and are basically scammers. If you are ever tempted to buy, just ask yourself why someone would sell the secret of unlimited wealth for just $20 to a stranger.