Who would have thought that a stretch of dry land in the Mojave Desert would explode into an epicenter of entertainment, lights, epicurean delights, high stakes poker tables and residential sprawl? Even with all this, Las Vegas is still known best as the best place for gaming in the world. Gambling offers thrills and excitement, but it has also led to gaming fraud over the years.

History of the Las Vegas

The history of Las Vegas is filled with tales of Paiutes, Mormons, gangsters, atomic testing, sanctioned indiscretions and one gigantic dam. The settlement was officially founded in 1905 after a railroad was built between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. The first resort on the Strip was opened in 1941—the El Rancho Vegas, famous for its gourmet buffet.

From Hughes to Greenspun and the epic population growth in the late 20th century to the $2 billion Raiders’ stadium, Las Vegas has been growing and will continue to grow until there is no more desert left to cover.

Somehow, in some way, over the years, the lure of Las Vegas remains, despite its ever-changing face. Tourists continue to escape to this entertainment mecca in the desert to eat, drink, dance and, of course, gamble.

gaming fraud

Background of the Gaming Industry in Las Vegas

“Chance” is at the core of Las Vegas. Taking a gamble is a key part of the thrill (and subsequent victory or defeat) of the casino experience. It’s one thing to watch a game and another entirely to place your own stack of cash on the betting table. The rise and fall of winning and losing is a hypnotic cycle that entrances, delights and devastates.

Unfortunately, some individuals attempt to “beat” that cycle, game the system itself, unfairly and illegally take advantage of the dealer, the other players, and the gambling. This is, indeed, another form of “chance” but not a legal one.

In fact, gambling fraud in Nevada can lead to hefty fines and a prison sentence.

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Las Vegas Gaming Fraud

Kepplinger holdout machine example.png

By John Nevil Maskelyne – ‘Sharps and Flats’: A Complete Revelation of the Secrets of Cheating at Games of Chance and Skill. London and New York: Longmans, Green, and Co, 1894. Public Domain, Link

According to NRS 465.0701, in the state of Nevada, it is unlawful for any individual to do the following:

  • To alter or misrepresent the outcome of a game or other event on which wagers have been made after the outcome is made sure but before it is revealed to the players.
  • To place, increase or decrease a bet or to determine the course of play after acquiring knowledge, not available to all players, of the outcome of the game or any event that affects the outcome of the game or which is the subject of the bet or to aid anyone in acquiring such knowledge for the purpose of placing, increasing or decreasing a bet or determining the course of play contingent upon that event or outcome.
  • To claim, collect or take, or attempt to claim, collect or take, money or anything of value in or from a gambling game, with intent to defraud, without having made a wager contingent thereon, or to claim, collect or take an amount greater than the amount won.
  • Knowingly to entice or induce another to go to any place where a gambling game is being conducted or operated in violation of the provisions of this chapter, with the intent that the other person play or participate in that gambling game.
  • To place or increase a bet after acquiring knowledge of the game’s outcome or other event which is the subject of the bet, including past-posting and pressing bets.
  • To reduce the amount wagered or cancel the bet after acquiring knowledge of the game’s outcome or other event which is the subject of the bet, including pinching bets.
  • To manipulate, with the intent to cheat, any component of a gaming device in a manner contrary to the designed and normal operational purpose for the component, including, but not limited to, varying the pull of the handle of a slot machine, with knowledge that the manipulation affects the outcome of the game or with knowledge of any event that affects the outcome of the game.
  • To offer, promise or give anything of value to anyone for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a race, sporting event, contest or game upon which a wager may be made, or to place, increase or decrease a wager after acquiring knowledge, not available to the general public, that anyone has been offered, promised or given anything of value for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the race, sporting event, contest or game upon which the wager is placed, increased or decreased.
  • To change or alter the normal outcome of any game played on an interactive gaming system or how the outcome is reported to any participant in the game.

Prohibited Gaming Devices

Men using a prohibited gaming device on slot machine

NRS 465.0752 discusses the possession of devices, software or hardware that obtain an advantage at playing games. These devices are strictly prohibited.

Examples of these include devices that:

  • Project the outcome of a game
  • Keeps track of cards played or cards prepared for play in the game
  • Analyzes the probability of the occurrence of an event relating to the game
  • Analyzes the strategy for playing or betting to be used in the game

The exception is any device that is available as part of an approved game or otherwise permitted by the Commission.

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Penalties for Gaming Fraud in Nevada

Man hiding an ace under in his sleeve at the casino

Gaming fraud in Nevada is categorized as a Class C Felony, and the penalties are as follows for a first offense:

  • 1-5 years in a Nevada State Prison
  • Restitution and up to $10,000 in fines

For a second or subsequent violation of gambling fraud, the crime is categorized as a Class B Felony, and the penalties are:

  • 1-6 years in a Nevada State Prison
  • Restitution and up to $10,000 in fines

Note: If you are found guilty of attempting or conspiring to cheat, this crime is treated the same as if it were a successfully completed crime. It carries with it the same penalties as a Class C Felony.

The bottom line is cheating is not worth the risk. If you’re in a casino to gamble, do it legally, and have fun. It’s not worth gambling with your freedom.

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Legal References:

1NRS 465.070

2NRS 465.075