Man May be Sent to Prison for Exploiting Firmware Bug in Poker Machine
May 2, 2013 11:48 AM
comment(s) - last by
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
Federal Judge Miranda Du
. Prosecutors, backed by Silverton Casino and the slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology (
), 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.
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
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.
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 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
questionable CFAA charges
thought to be partially to blame.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren
Sen. Ron Wyden
(D-Oreg.) have sponsored a bill called "
", however it has yet to pass and be signed into law.
U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada via Wired [PDF]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
5/3/2013 8:59:59 AM
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.
5/3/2013 10:47:57 AM
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.
5/4/2013 4:56:09 PM
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.
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