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From its very beginnings, gambling has been an activity where people tried to get rich by using methods that didn’t rely on pure luck. Many combined different kinds of skills by using types of strategies that were once deemed unethical such as card counting, bonus hunting, or middling with more or less success. But others found ways to use every available resource to walk away with big winnings they hadn’t earned honestly. This post will deal with the second category, by focusing on the 5 biggest gambling scandals in casino history.

The Monkey Paw Scandal

The Monkey Paw Scandal is one of the most known gambling scandals and a variation of the famous slot jammer tricks used since the beginning of slot machines. Tommy Glenn Carmichael was at the center of it, inventing various methods of rigging pokies. The most famous of which was the so-called monkey’s paw, a type of wire that would trick the pokie into releasing its jackpot. He managed to pull millions of dollars out of various Las Vegas casinos until he was eventually arrested in 2001. He spent almost a year in prison and served three years of probation. Needless to say, he got a lifelong ban from entering any brick-and-mortar casino.

The MIT Blackjack Team Scandal

Most of you heard of this one if you’ve seen one of the best movies about blackjack 21 (2008). It’s a true story of students from MIT that managed to score millions of dollars by employing scientific card-counting techniques. They were led by Bill Kaplan who trained more than 100 blackjack players over the years and supposedly made $10 million for himself while the rest was evenly split between his accomplices. Casinos eventually found out what was going on and started barring members of the team from gambling. But, as we said, it’s a totally legal thing to do, as it is a type of skill that makes blackjack one of the most profitable casino games out there.

The Bellagio Craps Scandal

The Bellagio Craps scandal is one of the more recent gambling scandals, making headlines back in 2016. The perpetrators were Bellagio craps dealer Mark William Branco, and his two accomplices, Jeffrey Martin and Anthony Grant Granito. They scammed the casino out of $1 million by placing “hop bets” (phantom high-value bets on a specific combination of numbers) seventy-six times in a two-year time period before they were eventually found. And that would never happen if casino personnel hadn’t discovered that the group’s luck defied 452 billion-to-1 odds. Branco is currently serving up to ten years in Nevada State Prison and is under Nevada Gaming Commission’s No. 36 rule that makes it a felony for him to ever step into any casino again.

The Disappearing Sportsbook Cashier Scandal

And the last on our list of the biggest gambling scandals in history is also the most intriguing one. The mysterious case of sportsbook cashier William John Brennan. Brennan was a sports book cashier at the now-defunct Stardust hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. His job was to round up and count all the deposits at the end of the day and oversee the place for potential cheaters. The combination of two jobs was probably what helped him outsmart the casino by simply walking out with more than $500,000 worth of chips and cash. But the most interesting part is the fact that none of the cameras caught him leaving the casino. The warrant for his arrest is still out there, but the case remains unresolved to this day.

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