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No matter where you are in the world, casino heists are more brazen and more intensive than ever before. Maybe it has something to do with the way Clooney and co have added a dash of razzle and ‘respectability’ to large currency robbery. Or maybe it is just the way of a world that’s lost in the depths of amorality.
In the USA where casino games first became a saleable commodity, heists are typically sophisticated and well-planned. There is usually a few cleverly timed diversionary tactics to coincide with a quick getaway.
Over in South Africa where crime is at pandemic proportions, casino capers are more a smash and grab kind of felony. In Africa, sophistication be damned! Heavy machinery is backed by heavy artillery when there is law-breaking on the mind.
Over the decades brick and mortar casinos have become cash-and-carry joints for the bad guys, so much so an entire law enforcement agency in the Mississippi Delta swopped over to the dark side.
To celebrate money grabbing miscreants everywhere, here are a few of the more memorable heists by fellas who were more interested in the cash in the cage than the high stakes casino games:
In 2003 a number of riverboat casinos and their brick and mortar counterparts were hit by a spate of armed robberies. Although the modus operandi differed slightly from joint to joint, a hoax bomb was involved in at least two of them.
In the first heist at the Horizon Casino, a gun-toting dude wearing a ski mask and Dallas Cowboys’ jacket overpowered a security guard, muscled him to the cage and demanded all the money. He also claimed he’d detonate a bomb if the loot was not handed over.
At the same time as he was escaping with over $60k in cash a fire mysteriously broke out at the local elementary school and a second bomb was reported on the other end of town.
Smart? You darn right it’s smart! The manufactured emergencies prompted the police to re-direct their limited resources to saving lives. The end result? The casino crim got clean away and the bombs proved to be empty shoeboxes!
The second heist involved a be-wigged lady and a gift-wrapped bomb-in-a-box. This time the felon thunked the ‘bomb’ on the cashier’s counter, blew a few kisses and walked out with a weighty carrier bag containing $60,000.
The bomb, of course, was a nom de plume for a cardboard carton. Sound familiar? Yup it was a parody of the first robbery but without the arson!
In just 12 months, 11 casinos in the Mississippi Delta were plundered in 25 separate robberies - a casino games driven crime wave that netted at least $1,4 million. Coincidence?
Not really. The moment the sheriff and his crooked cohorts were recalled - and later arrested - it was all quiet again in the Mississippi sawdust joints!
Right here in South Africa - where Springbok Casino is king - there is no such thing as subtlety when it comes to robbing and pillaging. Our guys like to form gangs, arm themselves to the teeth with assault rifles and smash-em-down tools and storm casinos in the early hours.
There is never any doubt the gangsters are there for nefarious purposes - and not the casino games - and there is no attempt at all to disguise their ill intent. They simply storm in, start shooting and smash their way into the vault… job done.
The casino gang has pulled it off in Carnival City, Gold Reef City and at the Monte Visto Casino in Newcastle Kwa-Zulu Natal. The estimated net return was around $5 million.
Despite - or maybe because of - their heavy-handed tactics many of the gang members have been hunted down and arrested with the booty partially intact.
To a new generation of casino crooks, the hands-on approach is so old hat. Now days the hacker is the heist overlord and he or she doesn’t have to leave the safety of their abode to cash-in - and cash-in big - on the takings of casino games.
The most successful hackers are those who are adept at reverse engineering the algorithms that govern how slot machines operate. The heist itself is really a team effort as there are agents deployed on the ground to gather data.
In most cases the agents use their smartphones to video the action on slot machines in casinos on the Strip and in London, Vladivostok and Macau.
The recorded imagery is then sent to the hacker who analyses the video and sends data to a custom app on the agent’s phone. The second the phone starts vibrating, it is time to hit the spin button and pocket the jackpot prize the hacker had predicted all along!
What is the average ROI with this kind of high-tech robbery? In a good week the team can make around $280k. That’s more than a $1 million a month!
Hands-off hacking really is a low risk, high reward strategy of coining it on casino games… especially for the guys sitting behind the PC!
At Springbok Casino our casino games are fair and our random number generator software is routinely tested to ensure the highest level of security and integrity.
To any wannabe hackers out there intent on planning a heist - be warned. At Springbok Casino we are protected by state of the art security and prepared for any eventuality!