Slot machine hackers proving hard to catch

Written by Ben Blaschke

An international syndicate of slot machine hackers continues to operate across the globe, despite some members having been recently caught in Singapore and the US state of Missouri.

News of the syndicate’s ongoing efforts to make millions from hacking into certain slots is the biggest revelation to emerge from the North American Regulators Roundtable held in Las Vegas last week. As revealed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Russian syndicate has since moved its focus to Europe and South America with Peru the most recent country to have been struck.

The group is believed to have been in operation for as long as a decade but was only discovered in 2014 in Missouri. A team was also arrested in Singapore last year.

In total, the group is believed to number between 40 and 70 members with headquarter based in St Petersburg. They operated by taking video footage of certain slot machines from a casino floor and transmitting back to the hacking team in Russia. That team would then reverse engineer the machine’s random number generator based on previously known information before sending signals back to the player informing them of exactly when to hit the Spin button.

Next, foot soldiers would be sent back to play the machines. They would be armed with two phones, one in their shirt pocket that took video of the slot screen and one in their pants pocket. The phones had four applications representing four manufacturers, including Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. The pants pocket phone would buzz when it was time to hit the slot button.

Because their methods aren’t necessarily obvious on the casino floor – and also due to their constant moving between different countries – they have so far proved difficult to capture. Investigations are ongoing.