Posted on: July 17, 2023, 07:50h.
Last updated on: July 17, 2023, 07:50h.
Using a modified drill and some wire, a criminal gang in Spain was able to manipulate electronic roulette games in various gambling halls around the country. After repeatedly pulling off their heists without getting caught, the group’s luck has run out.
Agents with Spain’s National Police, in collaboration with the Basque Region’s Ertzaintza police force, have shut the group down. They have made several arrests tied to the theft of €417,000 (US$468,082) in three months through the manipulation of the gaming tables.
Specifically, they locked up four people, three of them in Madrid and one in Malaga, and another two are under investigation in Bilbao. The crackdown is the culmination of an investigation that lasted six months and which extended all the way to Austria.
Follow the Bouncing Ball
This past January, the Ertzaintza learned that several men had stolen €70,000 (US$78,638) from two gambling halls through the scheme. The police force then sent the images of the perpetrators to Spain’s National Police.
It didn’t take long for a connection to be made. The National Police recognized two of the perpetrators and identified them as subjects of interest in similar heists that had taken place across the country.
Spanish law enforcement may have made the arrests, but a lot of the success can be given to Interpol. The criminal group had allegedly been operating for years in the country and perhaps across Europe. Interpol already had several active red notices for some of those involved.
When committing the scams, the members of the organization scouted the target property, whether it be a casino, a slot parlor or some other venue. They checked the layout and the security to find those with more relaxed policies.
Subsequently, they gained entry to the venues with the help of fake IDs. Once inside, each had an assigned responsibility, with two or three providing distractions for the property’s employees. As they did, another would go to work on the machine.
That individual was responsible for accessing the roulette machine. This was accomplished by drilling a hole in the dome and introducing a metal object, such as a wire or semi-rigid rod, inside. He would then force the ball to stop rotating on a specific number on which he had already placed his bet.
Long Run Comes To An End
With video roulette, there’s no need for a dealer. In some versions, there is a traditional roulette wheel under the dome connected digitally to the machine. When the wheel stops spinning, the location is sent to the machine’s controls, where the players’ bets have been registered.
The arrests result from the activity the group conducted over just the past three months. However, investigators are confident that they’re the same people who have pulled off similar jobs at other casinos across Europe.
Interpol participated in the investigation because the group allegedly went international. Its members face accusations of committing a similar scam at an Austrian casino that netted them €117,000 (US$131,332), but other investigations are ongoing.
The gang had allegedly been able to operate for years without being caught, although the extent of their activity is unknown. Most gambling venues don’t like to publicize their vulnerabilities so many cases may have never been reported.