Craps can be a great way to spend your time on the casino floor. The craps odds (except to a few bets) are broadly in the casino’s favor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t walk away with significant winnings for your troubles. In fact, many who play craps on an ongoing basis do so because they are able to win money, through picking the right craps bets and the right timing for their game. But this is only possible when the tables are fair, and every player has always been 100% straight with their play.
Craps can only work where a random element is ensured by the casino. If the table is not random, it can quickly skew the odds even more in the favor of the casino, or in the favor of a cheating player – which is of course to the fraudulent disadvantage of every honest player staking on those tables.
But how has it been possible to cheat at craps, and are there any high profile cases that serve as a cautionary tale?
This term has emerged as a phrase in its own right, but it refers to dice that are rigged, or ‘loaded’ with additional weight on one side to fix a craps shoot. When the dice are fair, they deliver random results when tossed in a random way. When the dice are rigged, the results are predictable – even when tossed in a random way. These dice may have extra weight, or they may be off-square, which will cause one side to come up more than the others. In some instances, there may even be rounded, rather than flat, faces to the dice, which will produce the same effect.
It can be very difficult for the lay gambler to identify loaded dice, and given the nature of probability and chance, you would need a wide range of roll outcomes to be able to ascertain whether or not foul play is going on.
In most cases, you are much more at risk of loaded dice from a dodgy player at your table than you are from the casino. Craps is loaded anyway in favor of the casino, so it’s not exactly a sensible move for them to get greedy. However, some have successfully cheated in the past, and players have been significantly defrauded in the process through games that were anything but fair.
Million Dollar Bellagio Craps Fraud
The famous Bellagio casino in Las Vegas lost over $1 million to a group of four players between 2012 and 2014, a serious loss for even an established casino to take on any game. Two players as well as two dealers were identified as having taken part in these craps games, and initial suspicions led to investigations into the rolls leading up to those wins. Many times they concentrated on the low limit tables which got less attention from the supervising personnel.
According to Bellagio mathematicians and statisticians, the odds of the results coming up in favour of these players in the way they did stand at 452 billion to 1 – more than long enough for casino investigators and wider authorities to get involved. The Bellagio alleged that the players were acting in consort with a dealers at the casino, who would often claim to have heard verbally-called hop bets from the cheating gamblers once the dice were in the air. This situation kept repeating when both prosecuted dealers were working at the same table. The dealers then paid out the players just like they did correctly bet on the outcome of the roll. This was possible because Bellagio didn’t have specific area for such a bet to be placed.
In 2016 the investigation proved these allegations right, thanks to the cooperation of one of the dealers. Both players involved in this case were ordered to serve 4-8 years in the prison. The second dealer received sentence of 5-10 years. The cooperating dealer was sentenced to 2-5 years in prison This case shows the extent to which serious foul play can leave casinos, and other players, substantially out of pocket. The four men came up with the scheme in Las Vegas pizza restaurant. One of the players is brother-in-law of the non cooperating dealer.
The Nevada State Gaming Control Board deputy chief James Taylor said back then for The Associated Press: “We arrest 350 to 500 people a year for cheating or theft from a casino. But to have it go this long and for this much money is unusual. Fortunately, someone noticed and came forward.” It was another dealer who noticed something unfair was happening and notified the casino.
Your Protection from Craps Cheating
Casinos are the ultimate protection against craps cheating and loaded dice, and they work extensively to devise strategies and techniques to prevent cheating from occurring. Many casinos use transparent dice, which makes it more difficult for any loaded elements to be added to it. They also use a set of 5 dice, from which 2 are selected at random for any given roll. These dice are all given serial numbers, which are cross-referenced throughout the game to ensure the same dice are used all the time. And of course, the casino can and does change the set of dice on a regular basis, to prevent any allegations of bias or opportunities for cheating.
If you are concerned about casinos cheating, take heart in what they stand to lose – any casino found to be expressly rigging craps games would lose their license, which of course means they would be unable to run craps games or potentially other gambling games in future. The casino has too much to lose and too little to gain by cheating in this way – when the odds are already stacked in your favor, and the risks of getting caught so severe, what’s the incentive to cheat further?