Hacking Surveillance Cameras in Casinos

A high roller and his accomplice scammed a casino in Melbourne, Australia, by hacking into the surveillance system to cheat (and win) at a series of card games in his suite.

The Herald Sun in Melbourne reported that the gambler was able to use information from security cameras about his opponent’s cards to scam the Crown Towers Casino for around $32 million in eight key hands. The gambler was known to casino owners as a “whale” (someone who regularly bets and loses large amounts of money) and was being hosted in one of the Crown’s high-roller suites.

An unauthorised person was given remote access to the casino’s surveillance systems and was able to relay information about the cards in play to the gambler.

Incidents like this are quite rare, and this is believed to be the biggest scam to hit the Crown since it opened 19 years ago. The casino has “one of the most advanced, complex and comprehensive video surveillance systems currently┬áin use in Victoria,” according to a Victorian Law Reform Commission report from 2010. “The primary component of this system is CCTV.”

The gambling expert Barron Stringfellow told ABC Melbourne that hacking a casino’s security system isn’t as hard as one would imagine. “It’s very easy to intercept a signal from many casinos that don’t take precaution.” But Robert D. Grossman, a US security consultant who works extensively with casinos, told us that he was surprised by the scam.

It is extremely unusual to have open access to a gaming [surveillance] system, for exactly this reason. There are a number of precautions that should be taken, including separate camera and workstation networks, secure clients, and patchable Internet access.

When casino bosses discovered the unauthorised access, the gambler (believed to be from another country) was asked to leave the hotel. He was also quickly banned by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. He is believed to have returned to his home country. This could make recovering the $32 million difficult, but the casino apparently hopes that it will be able to recover at least some of the money.

Video: Crown Towers Casino in high-tech scam


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