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Security Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Richā€”Then Vegas Made Them Pay Michael Friberg John Kane was on a hell of a winning streak.
On July 3, 2009, he walked alone into the high-limit room at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas and sat down at a video poker machine called the Game King.
On July 3, 2009, he walked alone into the high-limit room at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas and sat down at a video poker machine called the Game King.
All the while, the casino's director of surveillance, Charles Williams, was peering down at Kane through a camera hidden in a ceiling dome.
Tall, with a high brow and an aquiline nose, the 50-year-old Kane had the patrician bearing of a man better suited to playing a Mozart piano concerto than listening to the chirping of a slot machine.
Even his play was refined: the way he rested his long fingers on the buttons and swept them in a graceful legato, smoothly selecting good cards, discarding bad ones, accepting jackpot after jackpot with the vaguely put-upon air of a creditor finally collecting an overdue debt.
Williams could see that Kane was wielding none of the array of cheating devices that casinos had confiscated from grifters over the years.
He wasn't jamming a light wand in the machine's hopper or zapping the Game King with an electroĀ­magnetic pulse.
He was simply pressing the buttons.
But he was winning far too much, too fast, to be relying on luck alone.
Now Williams knew something was wrong: The cards dealt on the screen were the exact same four deuces and four of clubs that yielded Kane's previous jackpot.
The odds against that were astronomical.
Williams called over the executive in charge of the Silverton's slots, and they reviewed the surveillance tape together.
The evidence was mounting that Kane had found something unthinkable: best offline roulette game kind of thing gamblers dream of, casinos dread, and Nevada regulators have an entire auditing regime to prevent.
He'd found a bug in the most popular video slot in Las Vegas.
He contacted the Silverton's head of security, a formidable character with slicked-back silver hair and a black suit, and positioned him outside the slot area.
His orders: Make sure John Kane doesn't leave the casino.
Virtuoso pianist John Kane discovered an exploitable software bug in Game King poker machines.
Michael Friberg Kane had discovered the glitch in the Game King three months earlier on the other end of town, at the unpretentious Fremont Hotel and Casino in downtown's Glitter Gulch.
He was overdue for a lucky break.
Since the Game King had gotten its hooks in him years earlier he'd lost between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands annually.
At his previous haunt, the locals-friendly Boulder Station, he blew half a million dollars in 2006 aloneā€”a pace that earned him enough Player's Club points to pay for his own Game King to play at his home on the outskirts of Vegas, along with technicians to service it.
The machine was just for funā€”it didn't pay jackpots.
You put some money in the machine, place a bet of one to five credits, and the computer deals you a poker hand.
Select the cards you want to keep, slap the Draw button, and the machine replaces the discards.
Your final hand determines the payout.
When the first video poker machine hit casinos in the 1970s, it was a phenomenal successā€”gamblers loved that they could make decisions that affected the outcome instead of just pulling a handle and watching the reels spin.
The patent holder started a company called International Game Technology that debuted on the Nasdaq in 1981.
IGT's key insight best slot machine in vegas to tap into the vast flexibility offered by computerized gambling.
In 1996, the company perfected its formula with the Game King Multi-Game, which allowed players to choose from several variations on video poker.
Casinos snatched up the Game King, and IGT sold them regular firmware upgrades that added still more games to the menu.
On September 25, 2002, the company released its fifth major revisionā€”Game King 5.
You might also like:The bug survived like a cockroach for the next seven years.
It passed into new revisions, one after another, ultimately infecting 99 different programs installed in thousands of IGT machines around the world.
As far as anyone knows, it went completely undetected until late April 2009, when John Kane was playing at a row of four low-limit Game Kings outside the entrance to a Chinese fast food joint at the Fremont, smoke swirling around him and '90s pop music raining down from the casino sound system.
He'd been switching between game variations and racking up a modest payout.
Kane hadn't even played a new hand, so he knew there was a mistake.
He told a casino attendant about the error, but the worker thought he was joking and gave him the money anyway.
At that point, Kane could have forgotten the whole thing.
Instead, he called a friend and embarked on the biggest gamble of his life.
Superstitious and prone to hunches, he'd felt it coming for days: April more info, 2009, would be exactly 15 years since Nestor ignored an urge to play a set of numbers that came up in the Pennsylvania lottery Big 4.
That was the story of his lifeā€”always playing the right numbers at the wrong time.
Games of chance had been courting and betraying Nestor since he was old enough to gamble.
In 2001 he'd moved to Las Vegas to be closer to the action, answering phones for a bank during the day and wagering his meager paycheck at night.
That's when he met John Kane in an AOL chatroom for Vegas locals.
Though Nestor was 13 years younger than Kane and perpetually flirting with poverty, they developed an intense addicts' friendship.
For about two years he had a stable life, living off public assistance, gambling infrequently, and playing the occasional lottery ticket.
Then Kane called to tell him about a bug he'd found in video poker.
Nestor drove to the airport that night and camped there until the next available flight to Las Vegas.
Kane picked him up at the curb at McCarran airport.
After a quick breakfast, they drove to the Fremont, took adjacent seats at two Game Kings, and went to work.
Kane had some idea of how the glitch operated but hadn't been able to reliably reproduce it.
Working together, the two men began trying different combinations of play, game types, and bet levels, sounding out the bug like bats in the dark.
It turned out the Game King's endless versatility was also its fatal flaw.
In addition to different game variants, the machine lets you choose the base level of your wagers: At the low-limit Fremont machines, you could select six different denomination levels, from 1 cent to 50 cents a credit.
That meant you could play at 1 cent per credit for hours, losing pocket change, until you finally got a good handā€”like four aces or a royal flush.
Then you could change to 50 cents a credit and fool the machine into re-awarding your payout at the new, higher denomination.
Performing that trick consistently wasn't easyā€”it involved a complicated misdirection that left the Game King's internal variables in a state of confusion.
But after seven hours rooted to their seats, Kane and Nestor boiled it down to a step-by-step recipe that would work every time.
Nestor and Kane each rang up a few jackpots, then broke for a celebratory dinner, at which they planned their next move.
They would have to expand beyond the Fremont before the casino noticed how much they were winning.
Fortunately, Game Kings are ubiquitous in Vegas, installed everywhere from the corner 7-Eleven to the toniest luxury casino.
They mapped out their campaign and then headed back to Kane's home for the night.
Kane lived in a spacious house at the far northeast edge of town.
His Game King was in the foyer.
A spare bedroom down the hall was devoted entirely to a model train set, an elaborate, detailed miniature with tracks snaking and climbing through model towns, up hills, across bridges, and through tunnels, every detail perfect.
The home's centerpiece was the living room with its three Steinway grand pianos.
Kane is a virtuoso pianist; in the early 1980s he was a leading dance accompanist in the Chicago area, and even today he sells recordings under the vanity label Keynote Records.
He left the professional music world only after failing to advance in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Now apologise, best online free casinos really ran a manageĀ­ment consulting practice that claimed one-third of the Fortune 100 as clients.
Kane's business was lucrative, so he was accustomed to handling money.
But now that they were on the verge of a windfall, he was worried about Nestor; he could see his younger friend returning every cent to the casinos at the roulette tables or blowing it all on frivolities.
He wanted Nestor to make a list and really think through his priorities.
Nestor started a list, but it would prove unnecessary.
After another day at the Fremont, they branched out.
To their surprise, the button sequence didn't work.
Over the following days, they explored the Hilton, the Cannery, then the Stratosphere, Terrible's, the Hard Rock, the Tropicana, the Luxor, and five other casinos, drawing the same dismal results everywhere.
For some reason, the Game King glitch was only present at the Fremont.
Kane decided to wring what he could from the four Fremont machines.
He learned to speed up the process by using the Game King's Double Up feature, which gave players a chance to double their winnings or lose everything.
Respectable payouts that might once have satisfied Kane were garbage now.
Unsurprisingly, the Fremont noticed.
In modern casinos, every slot machine in the house is wired to a central server, where statistical deviations stick out like a fifth ace.
On May 25, a slot manager approached Kane after one of his wins and announced that he was disabling the Double Up feature on all of the Game Kingsā€”he was aware that Kane used the option copiously, and he figured it must have something to do with his run of luck.
Kane took the development in stride: The bug, not the Double Up, was the real secret of his success.
But he was in for a shock.
The next time he played the Game King, the magic button sequence no longer worked.
He phoned Nestor, who processed the news.
With the Double Up option turned on, the bug worked; turned off, it didn't.
Whatever internal stew of code made the Game King exploitable, Nestor concluded, the Double Up option had been a key ingredient the whole time.
They just hadn't known it.
This wasn't bad news at all.
It was the missing link.
It explained why the bug had failed them everywhere but at the Fremont.
Most casinos don't enable Double Up because it's unpopular with players.
But that could easily be changed.
High rollers and slot aficionados often have favorite game variants or features slot machines turning stone casino aren't available by default but can be enabled by any passing slot attendant.
Nestor purchased two dress shirts and caught another flight to Las Vegas, where he joined Kane at Harrah's.
Row after row of Game Kings were waiting, and, true to the plan, the staff didn't hesitate when Kane and Nestor asked for Double Up to be enabled.
There were no limits now.
They could play anywhere and beat the house wherever they went.
Working as a team had its advantages.
While experimenting with the bug, they discovered that they could trigger a jackpot on the same hand more than once: All they had to do was lower the denomination again and repeat the steps to activate the glitch.
They could effectively replay their win over and over, as much as they wanted.
It was a risky playā€”even the busiest casino might notice the same player repeatedly winning with the same hand.
But now that they were playing together, Kane and Nestor could ride on each other's jackpots.
They could even piggyback on other players' wins.
No longer confined to four low-limit slots at a single casino, they prowled the floor at Harrah's looking for empty machines still showing a player's jackpot.
Once they got an attendant to turn on Double Up, it took only seconds to replay the hand at up to 10 times the original value.
Video poker wasn't even gambling anymore.
As the benefactor of Kane's discovery, Nestor had agreed to give his old friend half his winnings.
But now that the cash was rolling in, he was having second thoughts about the arrangement.
Every jackpot, he realized, was being reported to the IRS, and he'd already won enough from the bug to propel him into a higher tax bracket.
If he paid half to Kane off the top, he might wind up without the reserves to pay his tax debt come April of the following year.
He broached the subject with Kane: He'd be more comfortable holding on to the money until his taxes were paid.
It was just a year.
He'd happily give Kane half of his post-tax winnings then.
Kane was indignant but not surprised; leave it to Nestor to turn even free money into a problem to obsess over.
He insisted Nestor honor his agreement, and Nestor grew more agitated, his voice rising in pitch.
Why am I even doing this?
The tension between the men lingered the next day at the Wynn, a towering upscale supercasino with more than 1,300 slots.
They played side by side, raking in money and continuing to argue over the split.
Nestor was now of the opinion that he shouldn't have to pay Kane anything.
It was Nestor, after all, who'd figured out that the Double Up feature was part of the bug.
That should make them square.
AFTER A NIGHT IN JAIL, AN UPSET KANE CALLED NESTOR.
Nestor gaped at his friend, then he stood and walked away from the machine.
The next day Nestor nursed his hurt feelings with a solo trip to the Rio.
Then he wandered into the high-limit room and found another four aces.
He didn't need Kane at all.
And he wasn't done yet.
There were casinos in Pennsylvania, too, where he could operate without the slightest risk of Kane knowing what he was up toā€”or demanding a cut up front.
After Nestor left, Kane tore into Vegas with a vengeance.
Back in Pennsylvania, Nestor targeted the newly opened casino at the Meadows Racetrack in Washington County.
In contrast to Kane, who played the bug with joyless, businesslike intensity, Nestor was voluble and chatty at the Meadows.
He dressed smartly and, according to court documents, brought along a small entourage for company: his roommate, a retired cop named Kerry Laverde; and Patrick Loushil, a server at Red Lobster who agreed to collect some of Nestor's jackpots for him, so they wouldn't all show up on Nestor's tax bill.
Here, feel my heart!
But it all began to unravel the night Kane found himself waiting for a payout at the Silverton.
The casino's head of security stood just outside the slot area.
Kane paced and huffed, spun the swivel chair back and forth like a metronome, and complained to passing slot attendants.
Finally, three men strode up to him.
The head of security directed Kane to an alcove, handcuffed him, and escorted him away from the video poker machines.
An armed agent from the Gaming Control Board arrived soon after.
He sealed the machines Kane had been playing on with orange evidence tape and collected Kane from the back room, where he'd been handcuffed to a chair.
After a night in jail, Kane was released.
On Monday he called Nestor to warn him that the bug had been discovered.
He sounded more upset than nestor had ever heard him.
It was painful to imagine Kane suffering the indignity of a night in jail, mug shots, fingerprints, being treated like a common criminal.
But after the call, Nestor talked himself into an alternate theory.
What if there'd been no arrest?
What if Kane suspectedā€”as he must haveā€”that Nestor was using the bug and had made up the story about the Silverton to scare Nestor into stopping, so Kane could have the exploit all to himself?
He decided to ignore Kane's story best slot machine in vegas started planning his next trip to the Meadows.
Three days later, in Las Vegas, engineers from the Nevada Gaming Control Board's Technology Division descended on the Silverton.
The forensics investigation of the Game King scam had fallen to John Lastusky, a 25-year-old clean-cut USC computer engineering graduate.
Lastusky pulled up the game history on the two machines Kane had played and reviewed the wins, then slid out the logic trays, the metal shelves housing the Game King's electronic guts, and checked the six EPROMs containing the machines' core logic, graphics, and sound routines.
There was no sign of tampering.
He confiscated the logic trays and packed them up for the trip back to headquarters.
Housed in an anonymous office park near the airport, the GCB's Technology Division was formed in the mid-1980s to police video gambling as it click to see more its Nevada ascent.
The division helps set the rigorous standards that gamemakers like IGT must meet to deploy machines in the Silver State.
A 3,000-square-foot laboratory at the back of the office is packed end to end with slot machines in various states of undressā€”some powered down, some in maintenance mode, others stripped to their bare electronics, though most are configured as they would be on a gaming floor.
A smaller, locked-down room adjacent to the lab is more important: It houses a permanent repository of the source and executable code for every version of game software ever approved in Nevadaā€”more than 30,000 programs in all.
The code vault is at the center of the gaming board's massive software integrity operation.
Every new addition is carefully examined: Is the random number generator random enough?
Does the game pay out at the advertised rate?
Is there logic where there shouldn't be?
There's a real, if mostly unrealized, danger of gaming software being backdoored.
The concept was proven in 1995, when one of the GCB's own staffers, Ron Harris, went bad.
Harris modified his testing unit to covertly reprogram the EPROMs on the machines he was auditing.
His new software commanded the machine to trigger a jackpot upon a particular sequence of button pressesā€”like a Konami Code for cash.
He was eventually caught, and he served two years in prison.
John Kane and Andre Nestor experiĀ­mented until they could trigĀ­ger it at will.
Locate a Game King video poker machine conĀ­figured for multi-denomination play.
If you're in Las Vegas, you're probably already standing next to one.
Flag down a slot attendant and ask them to enable the Double Up option.
Say thank you and smile until they walk away.
Choose your favorite game variantā€”Triple Double Bonus Poker is funā€”and start playing.
With your royal flush showing but not yet cashed out, hit the More Games button on the touchscreen and select a different game variation.
Play it until you score a win.
Insert more money or a voucher into the machine.
Press the Cash Out button.
Once you've signed it, they'll get the machine to spit out a jackpot ticket.
BRATISLAV MILENKOVIC That stain on the board's integrity haunts the division to this day.
But by all evidence, the division's paranoia, coupled with the game industry's self-interest, have kept video gambling code clean and mostly free of exploitable bugs.
That made the Game King case an intriguing puzzle for Lastusky.
Armed with the surveillance footage of Kane in action, Lastusky sat at one of the Game Kings in the lab and began experimenting.
Within a few days he was able to reliably reproduce the exploit himself.
He gave his findings to IGT, which rushed out a warning to its customers advising them to immediately disable the Double Up option.
Every Game King on the planet running a vulnerable version would need a patch.
The upgrade process would be grueling.
When an operating system like Windows or OS X has a security bug, customers can download the patch in a few sites best poker strategy over the Internet.
Slot machines aren't online.
New programs are burned onto EPROMs by the manufacturer and shipped in the mail in plastic tubes.
Blind to the firestorm erupting in Vegas, Nestor spent the rest of July and most of August playing at the Meadows, until August 31, when the casino finally got suspicious and refused to pay Nestor on a four of a kind.
Nestor protested but walked away, breaking into a run as he reached the parking garage.
The Game King ride was over, but he had enough money to last him forever.
At 1:30 pm on October 6, 2009, a dozen state and local police converged on Andre Nestor's split-level condo on a quiet, tree-lined street in Swissvale.
He was dozing on his living room couch when the banging started.
Nestor says he started toward the stairs, his hands over his head, when he came face-to-face with a trooper in full riot gear.
The cop ratcheted the handcuffs on Nestor's wrists, yanked him to his feet, and marched him into the kitchen.
For the next two hours, Nestor watched helplessly, handcuffed to a kitchen chair, while the police ransacked link neat home.
They flipped over his mattress, ripped insulation from his ceiling, rifled his PC.
At about 4 pm, Nestor's roommate, Laverde, arrived home and was arrested on the spot as an accomplice to Nestor's crimes.
It was the first major gambling scandal in Pennsylvania since the state had legalized slots in 2004.
The media portrayed Nestor as a real-life Danny Ocean, and prosecutors hit him with 698 felony counts, ranging from theft to criminal conspiracy.
The district attorney seized every penny of Nestor's winnings and gave it back to the Meadows.
Nestor and Laverde spent about 10 days in the county jail before making bail.
A defiant Nestor vowed to fight the caseā€”no jury would convict a gambler, he was certain, for beating a slot machine at its own game.
But on Best slot machine in vegas 3, 2011, when it was time for jury selection, Nestor was hit with another surprise.
Two FBI agents showed up and pulled him from the Washington County courthouse.
The Justice Department had taken over the case.
Nestor and Kane had both been charged federally in Las Vegas.
As the agents walked him to their car, Nestor stopped in front of a television camera and let loose.
They put a machine on the floor, and if it has programming that doesn't take your money and you win on their machine, they will throw you in jail!
Passed in 1986, the CFAA was enacted to punish hackers who remotely crack computers related to national defense or banking.
But in the Internet age the government had been steadily testing the limits of the law in cases that didn't involve computer intrusion in the usual sense.
Kane and Nestor, the government argued, exceeded their otherwise lawful access to the Game King when they knowingly exploited a bug.
The casinos only authorized gamers to play by the rules of video poker.
The pretrial motions dragged on for more than 18 months, while in the larger legal landscape, the CFAA was going under a microscope for the first time since its passage.
In January 2013, coder and activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide after being charged under the same law for bulk-downloading academic articles without permission, spurring calls for reform.
Three months later, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out computer hacking charges in a closely watched case against David Nosal, a former executive at a corporate recruiting firm who persuaded three employees to leak him information from the firm's lead database.
The Ninth Circuit found that pilfering contacts doesn't become computer hacking just because the data came from a computer instead of a copy machine.
Seeing parallels to the Game King prosecution, the judge overseeing Kane and Nestor's case ordered the government to justify the hacking charge.
Prosecutors had a weak hand, and they knew it.
As a December 3, 2013, trial date approached, the Feds made Kane and Nestor separate but identical offers: The first one to agree to testify against the other would walk away with five years of probation and no jail time.
The old gambling buddies had one more game to play together.
It was the Prisoner's Dilemma.
Without speaking, they both arrived at the optimal strategy: They refused the offer.
A few months later, the Justice Department dropped the last of the charges, and they were free.
Kane and Nestor haven't spoken since 2009.
After his Silverton arrest, Kane began recording classical music in his house and uploading the videos to a YouTube channel.
Last March, after the federal case was dropped, he sent a CD of some of his performances to his high school piano teacher.
Nestor's greatest regret amusing best slots in wendover nevada nonsense! that he let the Game King bug come between him and Kane.
His roommate, Laverde, signed over Nestor's money in exchange for avoiding a trial of his own.
There are no court filings to suggest that Kane's winnings were seized.
If there's one silver lining, it's that Nestor has been banned from Pennsylvania casinos.
He still gambles occasionally in neighboring states, but his more pressing addiction right now is Candy Crush, which he plays on a cheap Android tablet.
He cleared 515 levels in two months, using a trick he found on best slot machine in vegas Internet to get extra lives without paying.
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Security Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Richā€”Then Vegas Made Them Pay Michael Friberg John Kane was on a hell of a winning streak.
On July 3, 2009, he walked alone into the high-limit room at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas and sat down at a video poker machine called the Game King.
On July 3, 2009, he walked alone into the high-limit room at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas and sat down at a video poker machine called the Game King.
All the while, the casino's director of surveillance, Charles Williams, was peering down at Kane through a camera hidden in a ceiling dome.
Tall, with a high brow and an aquiline nose, the 50-year-old Kane had the patrician bearing of a man better suited to playing a Mozart piano concerto than listening to the chirping of a slot machine.
Even his play was refined: the way he rested his long fingers on the buttons and swept them in a graceful legato, https://chakefashion.com/best/video-slots-with-best-payouts.html selecting good cards, discarding bad ones, accepting jackpot after jackpot with the vaguely put-upon air of a creditor best slot machine in vegas collecting an overdue debt.
Williams could see that Kane was wielding none of the array of cheating devices that casinos had confiscated from grifters over the years.
He wasn't jamming a light wand in the machine's hopper or zapping the Game King with an electroĀ­magnetic pulse.
He was simply pressing the buttons.
But he was winning far too much, too fast, to be relying on luck alone.
Now Williams knew something was wrong: The cards dealt on the screen were the exact same four deuces and four of clubs that yielded Kane's previous jackpot.
The odds against that were astronomical.
Williams called over the executive in charge of the Silverton's slots, and they reviewed the surveillance tape together.
The evidence was mounting that Kane had found something unthinkable: the kind of thing gamblers dream of, casinos dread, and Nevada regulators have an source auditing regime to prevent.
He'd found a bug in the most popular video slot in Las Vegas.
He contacted the Silverton's head of security, a formidable character with learn more here silver hair and a black suit, and positioned him outside the slot area.
His just click for source Make sure John Kane doesn't leave the casino.
Virtuoso pianist John Kane discovered an exploitable software bug in Game King poker machines.
Michael Friberg Kane had discovered the glitch in the Game King three months earlier on the other end of town, at the unpretentious Fremont Hotel and Casino in downtown's Glitter Gulch.
He was overdue for a lucky break.
Since the Game King had gotten its hooks in him years earlier he'd lost between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands annually.
At his previous haunt, the locals-friendly Boulder Station, he blew half a million dollars in 2006 aloneā€”a pace that earned him enough Player's Club points to pay for his own Game King to play at his home on the outskirts of Vegas, along with technicians to best slot machine in vegas it.
The machine was just for funā€”it didn't pay jackpots.
You put some money in the machine, place a bet of one to five credits, and the computer deals you a poker hand.
Select the cards you want to keep, slap the Draw button, and the machine replaces the discards.
Your final hand determines the payout.
When the first video poker machine hit casinos in the 1970s, it was a phenomenal successā€”gamblers loved that they could make decisions that affected the outcome instead of just pulling a handle and watching the reels spin.
The patent holder started a company called International Game Technology that debuted on the Nasdaq in 1981.
IGT's key insight was to tap into the vast flexibility offered by computerized gambling.
In 1996, the company perfected its formula with the Game King Multi-Game, which allowed players to choose from several variations on visit web page poker.
Casinos snatched up the Game King, and IGT sold them regular firmware upgrades that added still more games to the menu.
On September 25, 2002, the company released its fifth major revisionā€”Game King 5.
You might also like:The bug survived like a cockroach for the next seven years.
It passed into new revisions, one after another, ultimately infecting 99 different programs installed in best paying penny slots of IGT machines around the world.
As far as anyone knows, it went completely undetected until late April 2009, when John Kane was playing at a row of four low-limit Game Kings outside the entrance to a Chinese fast food joint at the Fremont, smoke swirling around him and '90s pop music raining down from the casino sound system.
He'd been switching between game variations and racking up a modest payout.
Kane hadn't even played a new hand, so he knew there was a mistake.
He told a casino attendant about the error, but the worker thought he was joking and gave him the money anyway.
At that point, Kane could have forgotten the whole thing.
Instead, he called a friend and embarked on the biggest gamble of his life.
Superstitious and prone to hunches, he'd felt it coming for days: April 30, 2009, would be exactly 15 years since Nestor ignored an urge to play a set of numbers that came up in the Pennsylvania lottery Big 4.
That was the story of his lifeā€”always playing the right numbers at the wrong time.
Games of chance had been courting and betraying Nestor since he was old enough to gamble.
In 2001 he'd moved to Las Vegas to be closer to the action, answering phones for a bank during the day and wagering his meager paycheck at night.
That's when he met John Kane in an AOL chatroom for Vegas locals.
Though Nestor was 13 years younger than Kane and perpetually flirting with poverty, they developed an intense addicts' friendship.
For about two years he had a stable life, living off public assistance, gambling infrequently, and playing the occasional lottery ticket.
Then Kane called to tell him about a bug he'd found in video poker.
Nestor drove to the airport that night and camped there until the next available flight to Las Vegas.
Kane picked him up at the curb at McCarran airport.
After a quick breakfast, they drove to the Fremont, took adjacent seats at two Game Kings, and went to work.
Kane had some idea of how the glitch operated but hadn't been able to reliably reproduce it.
Working together, the two men began trying different combinations of play, game types, and bet levels, sounding out the bug like bats in the dark.
It turned out the Game King's endless versatility was also its fatal flaw.
In addition to different game variants, the machine lets you choose the base level of your wagers: At the low-limit Fremont machines, you could select six different denomination levels, from 1 cent to 50 cents a credit.
That meant you could play at 1 cent per credit for hours, losing pocket change, until you finally got a good handā€”like four aces or a royal flush.
Then you could change to 50 cents a credit and fool the machine into re-awarding your payout at the new, higher denomination.
Performing that trick consistently wasn't easyā€”it involved a complicated misdirection that left the Game King's best gambling website design variables in a state of confusion.
But after seven hours rooted to their seats, Kane and Nestor boiled it down to a best slot machine in vegas recipe that would work every time.
Nestor and Kane each rang up a few jackpots, then broke for a celebratory dinner, at which they planned their next move.
They would have to expand beyond the Fremont before the casino noticed how much they were winning.
Fortunately, Game Kings are ubiquitous in Vegas, installed everywhere from the corner 7-Eleven to the toniest luxury casino.
They mapped out their campaign and then headed back to Kane's home for the night.
Kane lived in a spacious house at the far northeast edge of town.
His Game King was in the foyer.
A spare this web page down the hall was devoted entirely to a model train set, an elaborate, detailed miniature with tracks snaking and climbing through model towns, up hills, across bridges, and through tunnels, every detail perfect.
The home's centerpiece was the living room with its three Steinway grand pianos.
Kane is a virtuoso pianist; in the early 1980s he was a leading dance accompanist in the Chicago area, and even today he sells recordings under the vanity label Keynote Records.
He left the professional music world only after failing to advance in the prestigious Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Now he ran a manageĀ­ment consulting practice that claimed one-third of the Fortune 100 as clients.
Kane's business was lucrative, so he was accustomed to handling money.
But now that they were on the verge of a windfall, he was worried about Nestor; he could see his younger friend returning every cent to the casinos at the roulette tables or blowing it all on frivolities.
He wanted Nestor to make a list and really think through his priorities.
Nestor started a list, but it would prove unnecessary.
After another day at the Fremont, they branched out.
To their surprise, the button sequence didn't work.
Over the following days, they explored the Hilton, the Cannery, then the Stratosphere, Terrible's, the Hard Rock, the Tropicana, the Luxor, and five other casinos, drawing the same dismal results everywhere.
For some reason, the Game King glitch was only present at the Fremont.
Kane decided to wring what he could from the four Fremont machines.
He learned to speed up the process by using the Game King's Double Up feature, which gave players a chance to double their winnings or lose everything.
Respectable payouts that might once have satisfied Kane were garbage now.
Unsurprisingly, the Fremont noticed.
In modern casinos, every slot machine in the house is wired to a central server, where statistical deviations stick out like a fifth ace.
On May 25, a slot manager approached Kane after one of his wins and announced that he was disabling the Double Up feature on all of the Game Kingsā€”he was aware that Kane used the option copiously, and he figured it must have something to do with his run of luck.
Kane took the development in stride: The bug, not the Double Up, was the real secret of his success.
But he was in for a shock.
The next time he played the Game King, the magic button sequence no longer worked.
In an instant, the Fremont was no better than all the other casinos that had been immune to the glitch.
He phoned Nestor, who processed the news.
With the Double Up option turned on, the bug worked; turned off, it didn't.
Whatever internal stew of code made the Game King exploitable, Nestor concluded, the Double Up option had been a key ingredient the whole time.
They just hadn't known it.
This wasn't bad news at all.
It was the missing link.
It explained why the bug had failed them everywhere but at the Fremont.
Most casinos don't enable Double Up because it's unpopular with players.
But that could easily be changed.
High rollers and slot aficionados often have favorite game variants or features that aren't available by default but can be enabled by any passing slot attendant.
Nestor purchased two dress shirts and caught another flight to Las Vegas, where he joined Kane at Harrah's.
Row after row of Game Source were waiting, and, true to the plan, the staff didn't hesitate when Kane and Nestor asked for Double Up to be enabled.
There were no limits now.
They could play anywhere and beat the house wherever they went.
Working as a team had its advantages.
While experimenting with the bug, they discovered that they could trigger a jackpot on the same hand more than once: All they had to do was lower the denomination again and repeat the steps to activate the glitch.
They could effectively replay their win over and over, as much as they wanted.
It was a risky playā€”even the busiest casino might notice the same player repeatedly winning with the same hand.
But now that they were playing together, Kane and Nestor could ride on each other's jackpots.
They could even piggyback on other players' wins.
No longer confined to four low-limit slots at a single casino, they prowled the floor at Harrah's looking for empty machines still showing a player's jackpot.
Once they got an attendant to turn on Double Up, it took only seconds to replay the hand at up to 10 times the original value.
Video poker wasn't even gambling anymore.
As the benefactor of Kane's discovery, Nestor had agreed to give his old friend half his winnings.
But now that the cash was rolling in, he was having second thoughts about the arrangement.
Every jackpot, he realized, was being reported to the IRS, and he'd already won enough from the bug to propel him into a higher tax bracket.
If he paid half to Kane off the top, he might wind up without the reserves to pay his tax debt come April of the following year.
He broached the subject with Kane: He'd be more comfortable holding on to the money until his taxes were paid.
It was just a year.
He'd learn more here give Kane half of his post-tax winnings then.
Kane was indignant but not surprised; leave it to Nestor to turn even free money into a problem to obsess over.
He insisted Nestor honor his agreement, and Nestor grew more agitated, his voice rising in pitch.
Why am I even doing this?
The tension between the men lingered the next day at the Wynn, a towering upscale supercasino with more than 1,300 slots.
They played side by side, raking in money and continuing to argue over the split.
Nestor was now of the opinion that he shouldn't have to pay Kane anything.
It was Nestor, after all, who'd figured out that the Double Up feature was part of the bug.
That should make them square.
AFTER A NIGHT IN JAIL, AN UPSET KANE CALLED NESTOR.
Nestor gaped at his friend, then he stood and walked away from the machine.
The next day Nestor nursed his hurt feelings with a solo trip to the Rio.
Then he wandered into the high-limit room and found another four aces.
He didn't need Kane at all.
And he wasn't done yet.
There were casinos in Pennsylvania, too, where he could operate without the slightest risk of Kane knowing what he was up toā€”or demanding a cut up front.
After Nestor left, Kane tore into Vegas with a vengeance.
Back in Pennsylvania, Nestor targeted the newly opened casino at the Meadows Racetrack in Washington County.
In contrast to Kane, who played the bug with joyless, businesslike intensity, Nestor was voluble and chatty at the Meadows.
He dressed smartly and, according to court documents, brought along a small entourage for company: his roommate, a retired cop named Kerry Laverde; and Patrick Loushil, a server at Red Lobster who agreed to collect some of Nestor's jackpots for him, so they wouldn't all show up on Nestor's tax bill.
Here, feel my heart!
But it all began to unravel the night Kane found himself waiting for a payout at the Please click for source />The casino's head of security stood just outside the slot area.
Kane paced and huffed, spun the swivel chair back and forth like a metronome, and complained to passing slot attendants.
Finally, three men strode up to him.
The head of security directed Kane to an alcove, handcuffed him, and escorted him away from the video poker machines.
An armed agent from the Gaming Control Board arrived soon after.
He sealed the machines Kane had been playing on with orange evidence tape and collected Kane from the back room, where he'd been handcuffed to a chair.
After a night in jail, Kane was released.
On Monday he called Nestor to warn him that the bug had been discovered.
He sounded more upset than nestor had ever heard him.
It was painful to imagine Kane suffering the indignity of a night in jail, mug shots, fingerprints, being treated like a common criminal.
But after the call, Nestor talked himself into an alternate theory.
What if there'd been no arrest?
What if Kane suspectedā€”as he must haveā€”that Nestor was using the bug and had made up the story about the Silverton to scare Nestor into stopping, so Kane could have the exploit all to himself?
He click here to ignore Kane's story and started planning his next trip to the Meadows.
Three days later, in Las Vegas, engineers from the Nevada Gaming Control Board's Technology Division descended on the Silverton.
The forensics investigation of the Game King scam had fallen to John Lastusky, a 25-year-old clean-cut USC computer engineering graduate.
Lastusky pulled up the game history on the two machines Kane had played and reviewed the wins, then slid out the logic trays, the metal shelves housing the Game King's electronic guts, and checked the six EPROMs containing the machines' core logic, graphics, and sound routines.
There was no sign of tampering.
He confiscated the logic trays and packed them up for the trip back to headquarters.
Housed in an anonymous office park near the airport, the GCB's Technology Division was formed in the mid-1980s to police video gambling as it began its Nevada ascent.
The division helps set the rigorous standards that gamemakers like IGT must meet to deploy machines in the Silver State.
A 3,000-square-foot laboratory at the back of the office is packed end to end with slot machines in various states of undressā€”some powered down, some in maintenance mode, others stripped to their bare electronics, though most are configured as they would be on a gaming floor.
A smaller, locked-down room adjacent to the lab is more important: It houses a permanent repository of the source and executable code for every version of game software ever approved in Nevadaā€”more than 30,000 programs in all.
The code vault is at the center of the gaming board's massive software integrity operation.
Every new addition is carefully examined: Is the random number generator random enough?
Does the game pay out at the advertised rate?
Is there logic where there shouldn't be?
There's a real, if mostly unrealized, danger of gaming software being backdoored.
The concept was proven in 1995, when one of the GCB's own staffers, Ron Harris, went bad.
Harris modified his testing unit to covertly reprogram the EPROMs on the machines he was auditing.
His new software commanded the machine to trigger a jackpot upon a particular sequence of button pressesā€”like a Konami Code for cash.
He was eventually caught, and he served two years in prison.
John Kane and Andre Nestor experiĀ­mented until they could trigĀ­ger it at will.
Locate a Game King video poker machine conĀ­figured for multi-denomination play.
If you're in Las Vegas, you're probably already standing next to one.
Flag down a source attendant and ask them to enable the Double Up option.
Say thank you and smile until they walk away.
Choose your favorite game variantā€”Triple Double Bonus Poker is funā€”and start playing.
With your royal flush showing but not yet cashed out, hit the More Games button on the touchscreen and select a different game variation.
Play it until you score a win.
Insert more money or a voucher into the machine.
Press the Cash Out button.
Once you've signed it, they'll get the machine to spit out a jackpot ticket.
BRATISLAV MILENKOVIC That stain on the board's integrity haunts the division to this day.
But by all evidence, the division's paranoia, coupled with the game industry's self-interest, have kept video gambling code clean and mostly free of exploitable bugs.
That made the Game King case an intriguing puzzle for Lastusky.
Armed with the surveillance go here of Kane in action, Lastusky sat at one of the Game Kings in the lab and began experimenting.
Within a few days he was able to reliably reproduce the exploit himself.
He gave his findings to IGT, which rushed out a warning to its customers advising them to immediately disable the Double Up option.
Every Game King on the planet running a vulnerable version would need a patch.
The upgrade process would be grueling.
When an operating system like Windows or OS X has slots variance best high security bug, customers can download the patch in a few minutes over the Internet.
Slot machines aren't online.
New programs are burned onto EPROMs by the manufacturer and shipped in the mail in plastic tubes.
Blind to the firestorm erupting in Vegas, Nestor spent the rest of July and most of August playing at the Meadows, until August 31, when the casino finally got suspicious and refused to pay Nestor on a four of a kind.
Nestor protested but walked away, breaking into a run as he reached the parking garage.
The Game King ride was over, but he had enough money to last him forever.
At 1:30 pm on October 6, 2009, a dozen state and local police converged on Andre Nestor's split-level condo on a quiet, tree-lined street in Swissvale.
He was dozing on his living room couch when the banging started.
Nestor says he started toward the stairs, his hands over his head, when he came face-to-face with a trooper in full riot gear.
The cop ratcheted the handcuffs on Nestor's wrists, yanked him to his feet, and marched him into the kitchen.
For the next two hours, Nestor watched helplessly, handcuffed to a kitchen chair, while the police ransacked his neat home.
They flipped over his mattress, ripped insulation from his ceiling, rifled his PC.
At about 4 pm, Nestor's roommate, Laverde, arrived home and was arrested on the spot as an accomplice to Nestor's crimes.
It was the first major gambling scandal in Pennsylvania since the state had legalized slots in 2004.
The media portrayed Nestor as a real-life Danny Ocean, and prosecutors hit him with 698 best poker online counts, ranging from theft to criminal conspiracy.
The district attorney seized every penny of Nestor's winnings and gave it back to the Meadows.
Nestor and Laverde spent about 10 days in the county jail before making bail.
A defiant Nestor vowed to fight the caseā€”no jury would convict a gambler, he was certain, for beating a slot machine at its own game.
But on January 3, 2011, when it was time for jury selection, Nestor was hit with another surprise.
Two FBI agents showed up and pulled him from the Washington County courthouse.
The Justice Department had taken over the case.
Nestor and Kane had both been charged federally in Las Vegas.
As the agents walked him to their car, Nestor stopped in front of a television camera and let loose.
They put a learn more here on the floor, and if it has programming that doesn't take your money and you win on their machine, they will throw you in jail!
Passed in 1986, the CFAA was enacted to punish hackers who remotely crack computers related to national defense or banking.
But in the Internet age the government had been steadily testing the limits of the law in cases that didn't involve computer intrusion in the usual sense.
Kane and Nestor, the government argued, exceeded their otherwise lawful access to the Game King when they knowingly exploited a bug.
The casinos only authorized gamers to play by the rules of video poker.
The pretrial motions dragged on for more than 18 months, while in the larger legal landscape, the CFAA was going under a microscope for the first time since its passage.
In January 2013, coder and activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide after being charged best slot machine in vegas the same law for bulk-downloading academic articles without permission, spurring calls for reform.
Three months later, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out computer hacking charges in a closely watched case against David Nosal, a former executive at a corporate recruiting firm who persuaded three employees to leak him information from the firm's lead database.
The Ninth Circuit found that pilfering contacts doesn't become computer hacking just because the data came from a computer instead of a copy machine.
Seeing parallels to the Game King prosecution, the judge overseeing Kane and Nestor's case ordered the government to justify the hacking charge.
Prosecutors had a weak hand, and they knew it.
As a December 3, 2013, trial date approached, the Feds made Kane and Nestor separate but identical offers: The first one to agree to testify against the other would walk away with five years of probation and no jail time.
The old gambling buddies had one more game to play together.
It was the Prisoner's Dilemma.
Without speaking, they both arrived at the optimal strategy: They refused the offer.
A few months later, the Justice Department dropped the last of the charges, and they were free.
Kane and Nestor haven't spoken since 2009.
After his Silverton arrest, Kane began recording classical music in his house and uploading the videos to a YouTube channel.
Last March, after the federal case was dropped, he sent a CD of some of his performances to his high school piano teacher.
Nestor's greatest regret is that he let the Game King bug come between him and Kane.
His roommate, Laverde, signed over Nestor's money in exchange for avoiding a trial of his own.
There are no court filings to suggest that Kane's winnings were seized.
If there's one silver lining, it's that Nestor has been banned from Pennsylvania casinos.
He still gambles occasionally in neighboring states, but his more pressing addiction right now is Candy Crush, which he plays on a cheap Android tablet.
He cleared 515 levels in two months, using a trick he found on the Internet to get extra lives without paying.
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Finding loose slot machines by John Robison Do the on the ends of aisles pay better than the machines in the middle?
How about the machines near the table games?
And are the machines near the coin redemption booths loose?
Join us on our journey for finding loose slot machines.
Slot players have formulated many theories about where casinos place their loose machines to aid them in their quest.
Before best machines in charles can figure out where the loose machines are, we have to figure out what they are.
There best slot machine in vegas no U.
So, what is a loose slot machine?
Say we have two 94% payback machines.
I bet some people say yes and some say no.
Let me add a little more information to the scenario to see if it gives you an idea of best slot machine in vegas one person calls a 94% payback machine loose and another calls it tight.
What if I told you that one machine was a nickel machine and the other a dollar machine?
For most people who play nickel machines, a 94% machine is among the best-paying machines in their area.
For most people who play dollar machines, on the other hand, a 94% machine is among the worst-paying machines in their area.
The person who called 94% loose probably plays lower-denomination machines, while the person who called 94% tight probably plays higher-denomination machines.
Let me add one more piece of information.
The dollar machine is a machine.
Dollar video poker players would rather have root canals on all their teeth with no anesthesia while their fingernails and toenails are ripped off than play a 94% payback machine.
They have many adjectives for a 94% payback machine, but loose is not one of them.
Looseness depends on your frame of reference.
Looseness is actually a comparison.
We should really be asking where the looser machines are.
So, what is a loose machine?
Quite simply, a loose machine is a machine that has a higher long-term than another machine.
The loose machines in a casino are those machines that have best slot machine in vegas highest paybacks.
These are the machines that will take the smallest bites out of your bankroll in the long run.
No wonder visit web page players are constantly searching for them.
Over the years, players have developed a number of theories about finding loose slot machines.
Casinos place loose machines near the entrances, for example, so passersby can see players winning and are enticed to enter the casino and try their luck.
The loose machines best slots forum online casino also at the ends of the aisles to draw players into the aisle, where the tight machines are.
And, of course, a loose machine is always surrounded by tight machines.
You never have two loose machines side by side.
Similarly, the machines near the buffet and show lines are tight.
People waiting in line are just killing time and getting rid of their spare change.
Money goes in and rarely comes back out.
The machines near the coin redemption booths, on the other hand, are loose.
Players waiting in line for coin redemption are slot players and the casino wants them to see other players winning.
Seeing all those players winning will make them anxious to get back on the slot floor to try their luck again.
Finally, finding loose machines in highly visible locations is most likely.
These are the theories I can think of off the top of my head.
Maybe you know of some others.
Most of the theories have a basis in psychology.
To see why, we have to look at how slot machines and slot floors have changed.
Picture a slot floor of 10-20 years ago.
The slot machines on a casino floor in that era are arranged in long rows, much like products out for sale in a supermarket aisle.
The machines are placed using cold, mechanical precision.
The picture shows hundreds of slot machines all lined up in perfect rows like little soldiers.
We have over 15.
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Compare that image with the slot floor layout at a casino that was designed in the last five or so years.
Studies have shown that players feel very uncomfortable playing in long aisles.
One of the finding loose machines theories has casinos placing loose machines at the ends of aisles to draw people into the aisles.
Having shorter aisles means having more machines at the ends of those aisles.
Can all of these machines be loose?
In addition to being uncomfortable in long aisles, players are also uncomfortable being put out on display for the other players.
Perhaps they feel like they might become a target if their good luck is too visible.
Instead of being in a fish bowl, visible to most of the slot floor, players in his niches can be easily seen by only the other players in that niche.
Another theory about loose machine placement is that casinos place them in highly visible areas.
Modern casinos still have highly visible areas, but the areas are visible to a smaller number of players.
A loose machine in this area will influence fewer players than before.
The last change in the slot floor that I want to mention is perhaps the biggest change of all.
Casinos used to have hundreds of slot machines.
Now they have thousands.
He and his management decided the hold percentage they wanted for each denomination and he ordered payback programs close to that percentage for his machines.
Furthermore, he said this was the common practice in Las Vegas.
As much as the slot floor has changed, the changes on the floor are dwarfed by the changes in the slot machines themselves.
They really do look like soldiers being inspecting, all standing at attention and in identical uniforms, or like rows of indistinguishable corn plants.
In fact, it looks like there are only three different games in the 10 machines in the first row in the picture.
I heard that one theory why Americans have gotten heavier is that we have access to a wider variety of foods today than we had before.
When meals consisted of the same thing time after time, it was easy to pass up second helpings of gruel and eat just enough to no longer be hungry.
Just as variety in food creates desire, so does variety in slot machines.
Back in the 1920s, a revolutionary change in slot machine design best slot machine in vegas paying an extra coin for a certain combination.
Adding a hopper to the machine in the electro-mechanical era made it possible for the machine to pay larger best slot machine in vegas itself instead of requiring a handpay from a jackpot girl.
The computer also makes it possible to add more gimmicks to machines.
Each new generation of machines has crisper graphics and better sound than the prior generation.
Slot designers are working overtime to devise compelling bonus rounds that best high slots keep players playing for just one more crack at the round.
How many people playing Wheel of Fortune are trying to win the jackpot?
Most people keep playing to get one more spin of the wheel.
Now I'll finish our discussion of where slot directors place loose machines with some additional thoughts, with a few anecdotes I've heard at slot seminars, and with what I think will be the final nail in the coffin of loose machine placement philosophies.
Have the people putting forth this theory ever been near a craps table?
A craps table with a shooter on a hot roll has to be one of the loudest places -- if not the loudest place -- in the casino.
In any case, the casino can adjust the volume level on a machine.
The slot director can put a very quiet, loose machine near the tables and not disturb a single table games player.
Another problem with following best slot machine in vegas loose machine placement philosophy is that it limits the flexibility slot directors have in moving their machines around on the slot floor.
Slot floors have only a limited number of high visibility areas.
First, one slot director described an experiment he conducted in his casino.
He had a carousel of 5 Times Pay machines that all had the same long-term payback.
He ordered new chips to lower the payback percentages on a couple of the machines to see if anyone would notice.
The machines with the lower long-term paybacks received just as much play as the higher-paying machines.
No player, furthermore, ever complained that some of the machines in the carousel were tighter than others.
In another seminar, a slot director shared the philosophy he used to place some machines that he had inherited from another property.
These machines, he said, had lower long-term paybacks than the payback he usually ordered for machines on his slot floor.
He said, "I read the same books that the players read.
I put these lower payback machines in the spots that the books said should have the high payback machines.
He was ordering 10 Times Pay machines for his slot floor and he was concerned about the low hit frequencies available for those machines.
Machines with multiplying symbols tend to have low hit frequencies, and usually the higher the multiplier, the lower the best slot machine in vegas frequency.
The slot director was afraid that his players would think the machines were very tight because they hit so infrequently.
He said that he ordered higher paybacks than he usually does for those machines in an attempt to offset the low hit frequency.
borderlands 2 slot best machine in machines would still have a low hit frequency, but at least the average value of a hit would be a little higher than if he had ordered a payback percentage nearer the percentage he usually ordered.
He hoped that would be enough to keep his players from thinking these were tighter than the other machines on his slot floor.
Although I think these anecdotes are the exceptions that prove the rule that some casinos at least order the same long-term paybacks for machines of a particular denomination, there is evidence that some casinos may not.
In any case, note that one philosophy said that loose machines create an atmosphere of activity and another said that high hit frequency machines also create an atmosphere of activity.
This is the perfect segue into what I think puts the final nail in the coffin about loose machine placement theories.
There is no correlation between long-term payback and hit frequency.
A low hit frequency machine can have a high long-term payback.
High hit frequency machines, in addition, can have low long-term paybacks.
Larry Mak, author of Secrets of Modern Slot Playing, recently queried the Nevada Gaming Control Board to find out the payback reported on penny machines.
The Board said it was 90.
Most of the penny video slots have very high hit frequencies, yet the overall average long-term payback is very low.
The usual reasoning behind putting loose machines in highly visible areas is so slot players can see other players winning.
Maybe we should be more precise here and say that players will see other players hitting and assume that they are winning because they are playing loose machines.
Slot directors may try to place high hit frequency machines in visible areas to encourage play.
This philosophy says and implies nothing about the long-term payback of the machines.
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A few states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania permit online gambling to persons over 21 years.
Land based casinos are popular and legal in most states.