Biggest roulette heists recorded

The roulette wheel has a long history of being abused and manipulated for unlawful personal profits, with many casino goers successfully and unsuccessfully attempting large heists while playing the game at land based casinos around the world. Here we detail the biggest roulette scams that have made global headlines.

Heist number 1 – The New York Crime Ring

Ohio Casino roulette heistsIn 2012, a group of approximately 50 – 70 people, according to multiple reports, pulled off successful heists of between $1,000 and $2,000 per job in casinos across Ohio and as many as 17 other states. Authorities believe the group hailed from New York and was an organised crime ring.

The heist involved people from the group entering busy and low-denomination roulette tables, placing wagers as small as $1. They would then swipe casino chips while accomplices distracted the dealer. The participants would then make their way to areas in the casinos that were not under video surveillance (like bathrooms) and hand over the chips to other members of the gang. Those new people would return to different roulette tables, and use those stolen chip to buy more chips at a higher rate and then cash out.

At least four mean were arrested after being found guilty of involvement in the heist, but it is assumed many members are still at large. Nobody knows if they are still performing the scheme.

Heist number 2 – The Casino Deauville Cigarette Scam

Casino Deauville Cigarette ScamIn 1973, one of the most ingenious roulette scams took place at the Casino Deauville in France. One of the casino’s roulette croupiers built a home-made radio transmitter that fit inside a cigarette package, as well as fixing a roulette ball with a small receiver inside. He enlisted the help of his sister and his sister’s husband.

The sister was the button pusher – she would stand one table over from where the dealer was managing his own table with the customised roulette ball, so as to remain inconspicuous, and press the transmitter’s button in the cigarette package. When she pressed the button, the roulette ball at the croupier’s table would slowly stop spinning and, with an accuracy of 90 per cent, fall in to a group of six numbers. The sister’s husband would be the one placing the bets at the table with the fixed roulette ball.

In about one week, the trio managed to steal five million francs (approximately 1.3 million Australian dollars), before they were found out and arrested when the casino owner took a romantic interest in the sister. The casino owner was curious as to why she would always hang around the same table, making very low wagers. The casino owner also realised she would always be at that table while the same person at the adjacent table was always placing large and successful wagers.

He suspected radio interference, and his suspicions led him to call in a debugging team sweep the floor. The team found the radio transmitter and the receiver inside the roulette ball, while also catching the trio in the act of cheating. The entire scam and outcome sounds like it would make for a great movie, and in 1984, that’s exactly what happened – a French film called Tricheurs (The Cheaters) was made about the classic story.

Heist number 3 – Sector Targeting at the Ritz Casino

Sector Targeting at the Ritz CasinoIn 2004, a trio of scheming gamblers used a technique referred to as ‘sector targeting’ to win approximately 1.3 million pounds (about two million Australian dollars) at the Ritz Casino in London. Sector targeting involves the use of calculations to determine the orbit of a roulette ball and devise a set of outcomes to display where the ball will likely fall.

The trio reportedly used scanners in their mobile phones that were connected to a computer, that would judge the speed of the roulette ball to determine where it would fall. While it would not predict the exact number the ball would land on, it provided a range of numbers within a section, and the trio would make their wagers accordingly. The group was arrested, but in the end, the judge ruled to let them go and allowed them to keep their winnings, as sector targeting was not technically illegal at the time. They did receive a lifetime ban from the casino, however. All in all, a good pay day.

Heist number 4 – Electronic Shoes and Burning Socks

Roulette heist with shoesUsing a similar technique to the one described above, two physics graduate students from the University of California Santa Cruz developed a miniature computerised receiver and emitter that they placed inside their shoes. The devices were used to measure the movements of the roulette ball and to determine where it would land. One device would disrupt the wheel and then send an electronic shock to the other device to inform the player how to bet.

It was reported that they made thousands of dollars until the heist failed when the computers short circuited, electrocuting one of the students and setting alight his socks.

Enjoy online roulette gaming

Thinking of trying to scam a roulette table at a land based casino? Think again. These days, security is extremely heavy and they make it near impossible for patrons to pull off any kind of successful heist. And if you get caught, you’ll be spending time behind bars.

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Darren Tendler

About Darren Tendler

Darren Tendler is a full-time editor for Roulette.com.au, and works to publish new and informative roulette-related content across the website. He completed a Bachelor of Journalism at Monash University in 2013.