LAS VEGAS – A special exhibit at the Nevada State Museum showcases the devious side of our state’s history. Dozens of casino cheating devices are on display — and now, you’ll have more time to see them.
All items once used to game the system.
Whether it’s card counting, as seen in the movie “21” or big-time robberies from the “Ocean’s” film franchise, cheating in casinos is part of the cultural conversation.
That includes cheating devices.
In “Ocean’s 13” one click of a special gadget turns the dice and who could forget the memorable scene from “Casino” where the gamblers actually hid machines in their clothing to count cards.
But do these kinds of devices actually exist?
Open a case at the Nevada State Museum and you’ll know the answer is yes. It holds all the cheating devices confiscated at Nevada casinos over the years.
A watch that sounds like it’s straight out of the movies.
“The idea was to try and visibly see what card was coming out of the shue,” said James Follis, Museum of Gaming History. “It would transmit to the accomplice who would actually be able to see the picture and be able to relay back to you what card is there.”
“The majority of them are from 20, maybe 30 years ago,” Follis said.
Follis is on the board of directors with the Museum of Gaming History which is displaying the exhibit at the museum for everyone to see.
“Hopefully they’ll take away a little bit more insight and knowledge as to the long, long history of gaming,” he said.
That history includes another table game gizmo — the Chip Cup.
“Put a couple of $1 chips inside this and slide it out on the table as if it is four, $25,” Follis said.
Among the devious devices are some light wands.
“You would push it inside, and tilt it up,” he said.
You insert them into a slot machine, trick the payout sensor and it would keep giving you coins. Also used on slot machines — but with a more unique name — is the “Monkey Paw.”
“You stick the straight device in, pull on the wire, it will curve over and touch the spot where the microswitch says a coin went in, and so you could play for free,” Follis said.
Some of the items are more simple including special sunglasses that allow you to see marked cards. There’s also the “Frankenstein” bill which is a $1 bill with $20 bill corners.
Cheaters would stick it in the middle of four other 20’s when checking out.
“If the cashier’s not paying good attention, they’ll get $100 out of it for 80,” Follis said.
Whether it’s a Monkey Paw or a Frankenstein bill, the Nevada State Museum says it’s important to put all of these items on display — because it’s part of our history.
“Create a legacy and preserve a legacy for future generations,” said Thomas Dyer, exhibits manager, Nevada State Museum. “It’s not going to help you much to look at these and try to duplicate them for your own nefarious purposes. People went to jail over this.”
Locked away, just like the culprits who used them, the cheating devices give us a glimpse of the past.
But as movies throughout the years have shown us, gaming the system is still very much part of the present.
“People are creative, they’re always thinking what can I do?” Follis said.
The enforcement division of the Nevada Gaming Control Board provided most of the cheating devices that are on display.
The exhibit will be available for viewing at the Nevada State Museum through the end of June.