There are three ways to bust casinos: luck, skill and ingenuity. Of course, it’s not easy in any of the three cases.
Then there is another way, that of scamming. Although, as we all know, these are situations that go beyond legality, we cannot deny that the history of casino robberies has given us some hits that represent real gems of ingenuity. Let’s find out what they are.
The MIT team
Let’s start with a soft scam so much so that, perhaps, we should speak more of a “clever ruse” put in place. How? With great mathematical ability, with an above-average IQ, with cold blood and nerve.
The story goes that between 1980 and 1990, the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) blackjack team, made up of a few students, roamed the tables of American casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, winning millions of dollars. The students used a more refined mathematical version of the classic method of counting cards and were helped by so-called “explorers” their accomplices.
The scouts played at the tables and let the bettors know when the score was close to 21. The story of the MIT Blackjack Team inspired the film “21”, a great cinematic success in 2008.
The example is “borderline” because the scam was not considered such, and the students cashed in the money they won, but the casinos to prevent similar situations from happening again changed the rules: the stratagem thus devised by the MIT Blackjack Team was rendered ineffective.
“Chips and cash”
There are people who have spent months studying ingenious plans to be able to rob some of the most famous casinos in the world, so much so that their stories have become the inspiration for successful films. However, there are also more comical stories, of which we give you an example below.
Less orthodox, less “mathematically brilliant” but just as ingenious for its simplicity, is the case that occurred at the Stardust in Las Vegas, now demolished.
Bill Hermann, croupier of the casino, for years had seen rich businessmen and not try their luck at the casino tables; one day, tired of dealing cards and throwing balls for others, he thought of taking a risk too, but not by betting on roulette or playing blackjack. Instead, he chose to empty the casino’s coffers in a truly original way: he managed to steal a huge sum of money, half a million dollars, by simply filling bags of chips with cash and making a run for it. He said goodbye to his security friends and disappeared forever. He is, in fact, still wanted by the FBI. We imagine him enjoying the money he stole in some earthly paradise. Bill Hermann’s robbery is undoubtedly one of the biggest heists ever pulled off in a casino.
Scientists at the Ritz in London
In 2004, four mathematicians, two Hungarians and two Serbs pulled off an ingenious heist at the Ritz in London, using a highly complex trick based on mathematical calculations and the rules of physics. In just four hours, they took away about three million dollars, beating the roulette wheel thanks to a system of lasers, scanners, computers and cell phones that calculated the angle and speed of the ball.
The curiosity is that they were not found guilty by law following the complaint of the casino because the roulette, in fact, was not rigged. Real criminal geniuses: after all, it seems to be worth being a brainiac!
The dream of Farmer Kellermann
A very different story is that of Fred Kellermann, a humble worker who, while playing slot machines in a casino in Reno, California, managed to beat the machine and win a whopping $250,000!
Unfortunately, however, the machine jammed at the time when he should have paid the amount won, unleashing the wrath of Kellermann, who literally hurled himself against the slot machine, kicking it. The bouncers, seeing the furious reaction, kicked him out of place, but the farmer did not give up: he went back to the guide of his tractor and broke into the casino shouting: “I’ll just take what I’m entitled to”. He tied the entire group of machines to his tractor and dragged them out onto the road. How did the story end? Kellerman was fined $125,000 for the damage done to the casino, but he was also awarded the winnings. In the end, he collected $125,000, definitely better than nothing!
We conclude our roundup of the greatest casino robberies by going to the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In 2010 Anthony Carleo arrived at the entrance of the casino on board his motorcycle and broke into the gaming room; once inside, he targeted a craps table stealing chips worth 1.5 million dollars. It was for this epic entrance that he was nicknamed the Biker Bandit.
But, unlike the stories mentioned above that have a more or less happy ending, for the biker bandit, things did not end well. In fact, he tried to resell on the Internet the stolen chips, but he made two mistakes: as a contact e-mail he used [email protected] (the colour was a clear reference to that of the chips), and as if this were not enough, he signed himself with the name Biker Bandit. Not exactly two strokes of genius. Result? The robber was arrested and is now serving 27 years in prison.