Russian Slot Machine Ban Bred the Perfect Slots Criminals

russian-slots-cheatsBack in 2009, Russian President Vladimir Putin banned slot machines. What seemed like a simple method to cripple the Georgian mafia has led to an influx in slots super criminals.

Notable slots crimes have happened at the Lumiere Place Casino in St. Louis, and multiple incidents in Eastern European countries in 2010 and ’11.

According to Wired, this uptick in slots crimes comes from Russian criminals buying slot machines for cheap from casinos that were hurt by the gambling ban. And despite slot machines being programmed to deliver random results, these gangs have spent countless hours reverse-engineering any kind of advantage they can get through the games.

Here’s an excerpt from Wired that breaks down how criminals have reverse-engineered the pseudo random number generators:

“But as the “pseudo” in the name suggests, the numbers aren’t truly random. Because human beings create them using coded instructions, PRNGs can’t help but be a bit deterministic. (A true random number generator must be rooted in a phenomenon that is not manmade, such as radioactive decay.) PRNGs take an initial number, known as a seed, and then mash it together with various hidden and shifting inputs—the time from a machine’s internal clock, for example—in order to produce a result that appears impossible to forecast.

Lumiere-Place-Casino“But if hackers can identify the various ingredients in that mathematical stew, they can potentially predict a PRNG’s output. That process of reverse engineering becomes much easier, of course, when a hacker has physical access to a slot machine’s innards.”

Using the wits of engineer Murat Bliev and mobile phone technology, Russian gangsters have won millions from slot machines spanning from Singapore to Missouri. But Bliev and his accomplices have since been apprehended.

Given that we reported on this story three years ago, it isn’t new. But Wired’s recent account offers new and more in-depth insight into how a Russian gang exploited slot machines that – based on gaming jurisdiction testing – are supposed to be unbeatable with regard to skill.