Gaming Agents Focus On Casino Cheaters

Inside a black brief case was a light device confiscated by the Mississippi Gaming Commission. According to director of enforcement Rich Randall, suspected casino cheats used it to win slot machine jackpots they didn't deserve.

"You can actually bleed a slot machine with little or no attention drawn to it," Randall said while pressing the button that turned on the light.

Before he spoke to the Edgewater Rotary, Randall showed WLOX News some of the illegal gadgets his agents uncovered. One of the bags contained a coin with holes in it. The holes had strings tied to them, so the coin could be pulled out of the slot and used again. "This device here was obviously designed to defeat part of the machine," he said.

Gaming agents try to keep criminals away from the state's 39,000 slot machines and 1,100 table games. "The opportunity to take a hit on slot machines or table games is certainly there," said Randall. "That's why there is so much game protection. That's why we require so much surveillance."

Glen Graves is responsible for surveillance at Gulfport's Copa Casino. "People get greedy. They like to take a chance," Graves said.

Surveillance cameras focus on the entire casino, so agents can scan the floor, looking for cheaters. They're looking for the illegal devices Rich Randall showed us. And they're looking for people who steal coins out of plastic slot machine cups. Security officers also have to look for fellow employees who may be stealing from the casino. "Protecting company assets works both ways," said Graves, "patrons as well as employees. Anybody touching company funds, we're taking a look at them."

The goal at any casino is the same. Catch casino cheats before the bulb on that illegal device lights up, and a machine is coerced into paying an undeserved jackpot.

During the first half of 2003, gaming commission investigators worked 69 theft cases. And they've made 46 arrests. Gaming agents said some of the arrests were in north Mississippi, where thieves brandished guns when they robbed casino cages.