Hackers have found a way to hack slot machines in casinos. Originally from Central Europe, they operate throughout France using their smartphones.
A magic formula launched from a cell phone to make casino slot machines corruptible? This is the stratagem found by several crooks who have plagued French casinos. Last year, the Enghien-les-Bains casino (Val-d’Oise) paid the price. A fifty-year-old was arrested in the act of cheating and then imprisoned. He had pocketed 12,000 euros during the evening. The man recently appeared before the Versailles investigating chamber. According to an investigation by Le Parisienhe is the only one to have been arrested.
How did he do it? With a smartphone and the right software, intended to trap slot machines which represent 80% of casino revenue in France. No more roller machines, activated by a lever: they now work thanks to an algorithm, controlled by the games police.
“Similar to bank card hacking”
“It is quite easy to interfere with the electromagnetic waves of a slot machine and act on its algorithm,” recognizes Matthieu Escande, lawyer at the Paris Court of Appeal, specializing in games of chance, for Tech&Co . “All you need is a computer system that emits waves more powerful than the algorithm (…) It’s a practice similar to hacking bank cards remotely via NFC technology on mobiles.”
The slot machine is the preferred target of hackers “since to win the jackpot, you have to play optimally and regularly”.
To understand how it works, you have to look at the redistribution rate to the player (TRJ). French casinos are required to respect these rates, imposed by the Ministry of the Interior. The TRJ represents the percentage of the sum committed by the players which will be redistributed to them in the long term. The remaining sum is kept by the gaming operator, who ensures a profit.
For example, for an RTR set at 95%: a player who bets 10,000 euros for a long period on a slot machine should recover 9,500 euros. The remaining 500 euros are for the operator.
Slot machines have an RTR varying between 85% and 95%. Much more important than that of FDJ scratch games (59%, on average, redistributed to players).
“The hacker changes the rate of redistribution to the player of the machines by causing interference,” explains Me Escande. “So that he is not unmasked, he modifies the RTR beyond 100% and he wins every time. Because the casino does not take money from him on his initial bet.”
Matthieu Escande recognizes a “risky practice”, which has “its limits”: “When you win 12,000 euros in one evening, you do not go unnoticed. Especially if the winnings are regular, we are not in Las Vegas. A player who wins 500 euros per evening will be suspected by the casino and the gaming police will be notified.” Former casino employees may also be implicated. “They are the only ones who know about the recurrence of TRJ checks. Depending on the casino, the checks can be daily or monthly,” he explains.
Always according to the Parisian investigation, a mysterious criminal organization from Eastern countries is at the head of this network of criminals. “These are countries renowned for widespread hacking,” continues the lawyer who has studied gambling in Russia. “Gaming has always interested organized crime. These are common practices.”
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