Cheating Casinos: How slot machines were manipulated for more payouts

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Cheating in casinos is as old as the establishments themselves, with countless individuals attempting to outwit the house and secure their own fortunes. People have used mathematics, identity theft among others to manipulate casinos and escape with good amount of return.

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Among these infamous characters, Tommy Glenn Carmichael stands out as among the most skilled and audacious slot machine cheats in the history of gambling. His tool of choice? The notorious “light wand.”

Tommy Glenn Carmichael’s foray into the world of casino cheating began in the 1980s, a time when slot machines were predominantly mechanical and far more vulnerable to manipulation. Carmichael, a mastermind with an aptitude for gadgetry, saw an opportunity to exploit these machines for his gain.

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Carmichael’s claim to notoriety rests largely on his invention of the “light wand.” This simple yet effective device consisted of a small battery-powered light attached to a wire. The wand was designed to be inserted into the payout chute of a slot machine.

The “light wand” worked by exploiting a vulnerability in the machine’s coin-counting mechanism. In most slot machines, there was a sensor located within the payout chute that counted the number of coins being dispensed. When Carmichael inserted the wand, it would shine a light onto this sensor. The intense light blinded the sensor temporarily, causing it to miscount the coins or credits being paid out.

This ingenious cheating method gave Carmichael the upper hand over the slot machines of his time. By using the “light wand,” he could trick the machines into paying out significantly more than they should have. This cheating technique allowed him to amass substantial sums of money from unsuspecting casinos.

Carmichael’s reign of cheating came to an end as casinos started transitioning to electronic slot machines equipped with more advanced security features. The “light wand” became obsolete, and he was eventually apprehended by casino security and law enforcement.

He was caught red handed in 1996 and was sentenced to prison twice – once in Atlanta and Las Vegas.