Casino cheats used house CCTVs to score $32M

A rich, high-stakes gambler was dragged out of his opulent comp suite at the Crown Towers casino in Melbourne, accused of participating in a $32M scam that made use of the casino's own CCTV cameras to cheat.

The Herald Sun understands remote access to the venue's security system was given to an unauthorised person.

Images relayed from cameras were then used to spy on a top-level gaming area where the high roller was playing.

Signals were given to him on how he should bet based on the advice of someone viewing the camera feeds. Sources said the total stolen was $32 million.

They are capable of transmitting the most intricate detail of goings-on inside the building.

Casinos were the world leaders in CCTV use, and really represent ground zero for the panopticon theory of security. What is rarely mentioned is that "security" measures can be turned against defenders if attackers can hijack them. This is as true when a mugger uses his victim's gun against him as it is when a casino's own CCTVs are used to defeat its own anti-cheating measures. This is the high-stakes gambling version of all those IP-based CCTVs that leak sensitive footage of the inside of peoples' houses onto the public Internet.

Crown casino hi-tech scam nets $32 million [Mark Buttler/Herald Sun]

(via /.)


  1. Given that turnabout is fair play, I vote that you change the headline to get rid of the word “cheat.”

    1. Well, it is apparently against the rules of the game. But I do strenuously object to the word “stolen” being used for turning a game of chance into a game of skill.

      1. I suppose that demonstrates who’s buttering the Herald Sun’s bread, doesn’t it?  It’s not clear what information the guy was receiving, but card-counting is not a crime.  That’s why the penalty is banishment – they can’t prosecute.

        But we live in an age in which corporations are redefining theft as anything that impacts their profits.  And our lawmakers seem to agree.

        1. In this case, a co-conspirator with access to the camera feeds – maybe in the security room, or maybe using remote access – was looking over the other players’ shoulders at their cards, and relaying the info to the player.  That’s clearly cheating, though I don’t know whether it would be legal or not.

          Card counting isn’t even cheating – it’s just competence.  Casinos that ban card counters can’t even level the accusation of non-criminal cheating – they just have to admit that they only accept suckers as customers.

          1. That wasn’t clear in the linked article.  Where did you get this?

            EDIT: I see he was playing poker, which the H-S didn’t report. The Register article still leaves it unclear whether this guy took the casino’s money, or the other players’. Maybe the reporter doesn’t understand casino poker any better than I do.

  2. Sure, let’s go with: this is the same as “when a mugger uses his victim’s gun against him.”
    House always wins = “fair”
    beat the house = “steal”…with a gun

    1. From the article, we don’t know whether he was cheating another player or whether he was cheating the house.

    2. He colluded with a casino employee with access to the CCTV security network, and who used the security cameras to look over other players’ shoulders and tell him their cards by wireless headset.
      So, no, he wasn’t ‘beating the house at their own game’ – unless the house was already using the CCTV cameras to tell dealers what cards the players have.

  3. So I guess this means I don’t need that 55-gallon drum of love lube, the ninja grappling hook, or the night-vision goggles anymore…dang.

  4. “Person Of Interest” did something like this recently. I believe the computer genius billionaire guy was using his omniscient computer surveillance system to tap into the casino’s cameras. Etc etc.

  5. Recently the City of New York was trying to bust an Occupy Wall Street person for assaulting an officer. The interesting thing is that the officer perjured himself when footage of the event was found that contradicted his testimony.

    People who were there said the person didn’t assault the officer. With no video to show it was a “your word against the cop.”

    Interestingly  there was an officer from NYPD there shooting video, but  the “official tape” didn’t exist because the “camera was off” (despite the light being on…) however other video footage was found, one from Democracy Now. It clearly showed that the Occupy Wall Street person did not assault the officer. This  case  brings up the issue, “What if your CCTV -like footage shows something that the people who “own” the video don’t want people to know? What if you are the person who needs that footage to show the truth?”  Can you get access to this footage? How do you know it isn’t tampered with? What if it is from the wrong angle? This shtory reminds us that just because we are in a surveillance society, we can’t always count on the surveillance footage to be made available. I think that with the advent of wireless video glasses (like Google Glasses with streaming video output) we will have a lot more opportunities to provide evidence in “He said, She said” events when official video “disappears”(BTW, the first Season Black Mirror deals with this issue extensively. )

  6. So the guy is still alive?  I’d always assumed if you took a joint for a lot of money you’d be whacked.  Buried in a forest.  Get some new concrete boots for swimming.  That kind of thing.

    1. That’s Vegas.  This is Australia, all they have to do is kick him outside where the spiders will get him.  

      1. That’s the northern states. This is the CBD of Melbourne, spiders aren’t much of a threat here, the drunken thugs that frequent the casino on the other hand…

          1. Both are problematic. My cousin no longer has any sense of taste or smell after some drunken idiot punched him in the back of the head and knocked him to the pavement just outside the casino. He doesn’t remember anything about it, but witnesses said it was unprovoked. Security cameras managed to capture nothing of it either.

  7. Cory, language conventions are like Tinkerbell: if you stop believing in them, they’ll fade away.  The recent onset of your street-sign-related crisis of faith regarding apostrophes has caused you to mess up what should have been “people’s houses.”  (I don’t know what “peoples’ houses” as written would refer to — multiple nations’ national legislatures, perhaps.) 

    So, what you need to do right now is clap your hands and say, “I DO believe in apostrophes!  I DO believe in apostrophes!”  Keep doing that until you truly believe.  Maybe travel to the Magic Kingdom and do it there. 

  8. This is sort of like “they can’t root out X in prisons no matter how hard they clamp down; how are they supposed to do it to the un-incarcerated?” where the answer is suposed to be “by using methods other than force & restriction” not “create a police state.” 

    Or as someone wisely said, “the more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

  9. I didn’t see it in the article: what game were they playing? Like, if it was 21/blackjack, and you’re playing against just the dealer, the dealer wouldn’t show his/her cards in a place a camera could see. And if was against multiple people, that’s the video monitoring equivalent of counting cards, in impressiveness if not math.

    1. Look, asking questions isn’t going to help out the poor job creators who have been swindled by a card sharp.  Who’s right or who’s wrong aren’t questions that are going to soothe the rightfully injured casino owner here.  

      I mean, 32 million isn’t something you can just make back in a day.  Something like that is going to take at least a week.

  10. In Vegas the CCTV is in HD with unreal zoom capabilities. If someone could not only view the video but control the cameras it would give you an incredible edge in games where you’re playing against other players, like the poker room.

    Wish they’d mentioned what game was being played. But by the sounds of it, they kept saying he took the casino for the money, I’d wager he was playing blackjack. Accomplices were probably viewing video of the tables and sending him to the ones where the chances of him beating the dealer were the highest. He probably got caught because he bet the maximum each time and won each time.

  11. Somewhere, a terrorist cell is working out a devious plan that depends on using London’s own surveillance cameras to facilitate an attack.

  12. One of the basic rules of security cameras is that they shouldn’t be placed to allow viewing of passwords or PINs.

    Clearly, they shouldn’t be allowed to view pips either.

Comments are closed.