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Casino tends player was "hacking" by pressing a clever combination of buttons

In 2009, Las Vegas local John Kane scored the dream of many gamblers, winning five large jackpots on slot machines in an hour worth around $8,200 USD a piece at the Silverton Casino Lodge.  Now he's in danger of going to federal prison -- all for pressing buttons on a slot machine in a fashion he figured out would exploit a flaw in the machine's logic.

The case against Mr. Kane and co-defendant Andre Nestor (who helped Mr. Kane figure out the exploit) is being heard in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada by Federal Judge Miranda Du.  Prosecutors, backed by Silverton Casino and the slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT), are looking to not only deny the man his jackpot, but also charge him and his friend for violating the ambiguously worded Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (18 USC § 1030).  

Sentences for various for-profit "hacking" violations carry sentences of up to five years under the act, as Goatse Sec. hacker Andrew "weev" Auernheimer painfully found out.

Silverton Casino

Andrew Leavitt, a veteran LV lawyer representing Mr. Kane, calls the accusation ridiculous, saying his client was playing by the rules of the machine and was not responsible for the manufacturer's programming errors.  He tells Wired in an interview, "I’m not exaggerating or embellishing. … In one year he played 12 million dollars worth of video poker.  It’s an addiction.  He accidentally hit a button too soon, and presto.  It was a fluke. There was no research… Just playing."

He admits that his client, along with Mr. Nestor (who played primarily in Penn. casinos) then exploited the bug at the Fremont, the Golden Nugget, the Orleans, the Texas Station, Harrah’s, the Rio, the Wynn, and the Silverton, but contends he did not "hack" and did nothing wrong.

Game King
The pair used their trick on the Game King multi-game machine. [Image Source: IGT]

Even Las Vegas' Gaming Control Board chief inspector Jim Barbaree calls the exploit an "extreme rarity", saying most "cheaters" use mechanical tricks or other physical attacks like shocking the machine to try to earn illicit playouts.  By contrast Mr. Kane was playing the game, but had found an error of the game within its rules.

Mr. Nestor commented on the charges previously, "I’m being arrested federally for winning on a slot machine.  It’s just like if someone taught you how to count cards, which we all know is not illegal. You know. Someone told me that there are machines that had programming that gave a player an advantage over the house. And that’s all there is to it.…  Who would not win as much money as they could on a machine that says, ‘Jackpot’? That’s the whole idea!"

Andre Nestor
Andre Nestor faces years in prison for winning a slot machine. [Image Source: Wired]

The key to the case is an ambiguous phrase "exceeds authorized access".  That catch all phrase is used by companies to try to send whoever they dislike to prison by accusing the target of using their machine/software in a way they didn't approve of.  In some cases such "violations" have resulted in prison time, in others the suspects have been found innocent.

The CFAA is under reform, after RSS-coauthor and internet activist Aaron Schwartz committed suicide, with questionable CFAA charges thought to be partially to blame.  Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.) have sponsored a bill called "Aaron's Law", however it has yet to pass and be signed into law.

Sources: U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada via Wired [PDF], Wired



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Nope
By ritualm on 5/2/2013 1:39:27 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Start voting smarter, and start demanding change from your elected officials via letters, protests, and other peaceful means or sooner or later you or your children will find yourself beneath the hard booted foot crushing down on your skull.

When both the Democrats and Republicans are bought and sold to the highest bidder (lobbyist), our votes are worth nothing.

Forget about changing the current status quo via peaceful means; it's never worked over the past quarter century, it's not working at all right now and it won't work in the future. Blood needs to be spilled, and if that requires a civil war, so be it.


RE: Nope
By arazok on 5/2/2013 3:27:28 PM , Rating: 4
Nonsense. The miracle of the USA is that the ONLY thing that needs to happen for this to change is for the people to do one thing. Don’t vote for Democrats OR Republicans.

All it would take is ONE election cycle where people vote en-mass for a party that promises to pass constitutional changes sucking the money and corruption out of Washington politics. After that, the republicans and democrats would be forced to rebuild from their own ashes and people could go back to voting for the guy with the prettiest hair again. At least he won’t have the greenest pockets anymore.

Easier said than done, but so is rebelling against a government with a trillion dollar army. I’d pick the former, and vote for any small party with an anti-corruption agenda AND make sure to donate money to them so they can afford to market themselves. The last part is key to initiate change.

I don’t know US fringe parties well, but here in Canada I stopped voting for the major parties 3 years ago. I put my chips in with the Freedom Party, and I donate $200 a year to help them further the cause.


RE: Nope
By chick0n on 5/2/13, Rating: -1
RE: Nope
By GmTrix on 5/3/2013 8:59:59 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is that no matter how many diatribes you write on the internet, or how many informative articles you read and share to your friends, family, etc. you are not going to persuade people in large enough numbers to not have a Democrat or Republican elected. Not in the foreseeable future anyways. Whether it's an education issue, an apathy issue, or something else entirely, the large majority of people either don't know or don't care enough to make that kind of decision. It's not that I don't support trying to educate, inspire, and inform the rest of the country; it's just that I think we need to be realistic about how much affect that's going to have on people who, in general, just don't want to be bothered.


RE: Nope
By arazok on 5/3/2013 10:47:57 AM , Rating: 5
I disagree. Momentum matters. All that’s needed is some small party to get a toehold, and begin building support. At some point, a critical mass is hit and people begin to pay attention, and it snowballs. The idiots of society will pile on simply because everyone else is, just as they do now with the big parties.

It seems like the mood exists in the US. The tea party is a sign of this change, but they are attached to the republicans and have a certain bias and baggage attached to that that will keep them in a minority status. What’s needed is a party that can appeal to both the left and the right by focusing on fundamental constitutional reforms, rather then left/right politics. (Sadly, most parties focused on this are tilted to the right so this may be difficult)

This doesn’t need to be a choice between socialism/libertarian. It needs to be about corruption, campaign financing, delegating more power to the states, the constitution, and respect for citizens’ rights. It doesn’t matter if the US steers left/right. That stuff is important, but needs to be put aside for now. Focus on fundamental reforms and the rest will fall into place.

To be honest, I think if the states were treated more like countries, everyone could be happy. Texas could be a low tax, small government haven with no big ticket services, and California could be a socalist utopia with high taxes and free healthcare. The feds need to refocus on boring things like interstate trade, and foreign affairs.


RE: Nope
By TSS on 5/4/2013 4:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
The Tea party is an excellent example why it's too late to change via peacefull means.

Maybe the "mind" exists amongst the people but the action they should take against the system is completly oblivious to them. Have you read any of the tea party's economic proposals? They're complete and utter suicide! They would benifit the rich ten times what current policies do!

Yet they enjoy massive support. Because they're simply stating they're "against" something. That's the mind of the people right now, they're "against" the current system but have no clue what they are "for".

Ron paul was your best shot and you can see what happened. His economic proposals are only insane in that they're outdated and wouldn't work in a modern world, but atleast they worked once. Compared to the economic ideas of the rest which have never and will never work. How many votes did he get, both as a independant in 2008 and as a republican in 2012? Exactly.

The average american is ignorant as fuck at this point. I'm reading more and more shocking statistics each day. did you know about 40+% of the (remaining) population of detroit is functionally illiterate? They can still vote though. How the hell would they know who to vote for and why, if they can't even read?!

But to be honest, in my oppinion, it's too late even if the mind of the people was set on revolution. Do you really think you can fight a war against the government when 1/3rd of the population is too fat to run? Can't hide behind a tree because both their gut and their butt are sticking out?

Maybe 5-6 years ago it could've still happened but it's far too late now. We're in a full fledged collapse of the roman empire, including the massive loss of skill and knowledge as happened in the 500's. I wouldn't have believed it if i wasn't alive to experience it myself, but there you go. One indication of this is the loss of cheap skill analog producing techniques in favor of expensive specialized digital technology (soon to be unaffordable by the masses), another would be a society built on the concept of throwing stuff away while not even 50 years ago things where built and repaired to last decades, meaning all those skills and tricks learned repairing stuff are lost and have to be relearned.

If i was living in the US right now (i'm not but if i was) i would get the hell out. After a decade or 2 of severe poverty everybody's alot thinner and alot more focused on what they do want, rather on what they don't.


RE: Nope
By Reclaimer77 on 5/3/2013 9:40:14 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
All it would take is ONE election cycle where people vote en-mass for a party that promises to pass constitutional changes sucking the money and corruption out of Washington politics.


Unfortunately thanks mostly to Democrats/Liberals, there's now a huge percentage of Americans who directly benefit from Government spending/handouts/subsidies in one form or another. And they simply reject the notion that things need to change and this path we're on is unsustainable. Putting Obama in the White House for a second term was an absolute repudiation of any notion of fiscal responsibility, personal accountability, and that anything needs to be changed.

There is such a widespread culture here of socialism and central planning, with now nearly half the country sucking directly from the Governments tit, the notion that the people will vote en-mass against it is just not believable to me at all.

It took me a long time to finally come to grips with this fact, but it's true. And depressing. Railing against parties is fun at times, but ultimately pointless. The real villains in America are the people.

"When the public discovers they can vote themselves money from the public treasury, the [American] experiment will be over"


-Tocqueville 1838


RE: Nope
By lyeoh on 5/3/2013 2:52:46 PM , Rating: 3
Seems to me the rich ones are much better at voting themselves money than the poor ones despite the poor ones outnumbering the rich.
See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTj9AcwkaKM


RE: Nope
By FITCamaro on 5/4/2013 10:01:06 AM , Rating: 2
Most just keep more of THEIR money. Not take other people's.

Now the liberal "green" causes are very good at taking our money to make their leaders richer.


RE: Nope
By Ammohunt on 5/2/13, Rating: 0
"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton














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