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aug
17

Russian Casino Hacker Targets Slot Machines and Makes Millions

Tags: Aristocrat Leisure, Australia, hacker, PRNG, Russia, slot machines.
Posted on Thursday, August 17, 2017 by "T".

A Russian mathematician and programmer named Alex called it quits even though his scheme of 8 years hacking into slot machines and making millions is still thriving. According to him, even though his firm is successful, has grown tired of having to deal with payroll, hiring, and management headaches. What he wants to deal with now is an exit strategy. However, since his business is not exactly everything legal, he could not easily liquidate what he owns.

Overall, the venture that Alex had built was reverse engineering algorithms - known as pseudorandom number generators (PRNG) - an algorithm that governs how slot machines behave. Because of this knowledge, he is able to predict on when certain games are the likeliest to spit out money.

The slot machine hacking racket he does is not exactly targeting just one machine and infiltrating its system until is spews out the jackpot money, but it is actually a well-organized and more complicated and time-consuming effort. Basically, his agents roam casinos from Poland to Macau to Peru in search of slot machines whose PRNG has already been deciphered by him. The agents then use smartphones to video the vulnerable machines in action.

The videos taken are sent online back to the office with which Alex and his employees analyze the video to determine the odds. The office then sends timing data to a custom app on the agent's smartphone. The app program causes the phone to vibrate a split second before the agent needs to press the "Spin" button. Through this method, a four-person team can rack up more than $250,000 a week.

According to Alex, this type of hacking does not violate Russian Law. He says that what he does is just a little counterweight to the global gambling system where the house always wins.

One of Alex's exit strategies was to make a deal with Aristocrat Leisure, an Australian slot machine manufacturer that has been one of his team's chief targets. By revealing to them the vulnerabilities of their machines, he hopes its developers will be able to iron out their compromised flaws. Although he did not say the exact amount he was paid for his services, he however directed his agents to stop working on Aristocrat slots.

In the beginning, Alex said that he had no interest in slot machines. "As a mathematician, I was aware of how odds work at an early age," he says. "Mostly gambling appeared to me as nothing more than taxation on stupidity."

Things however changed during his freelance hacker days when a Russian casino hired him to learn how to tweak a Novomatic machine so that the odds would favor the house more than usual. Basically, the machine had been programmed to pay out 90 percent of the money it took in, a figure that Alex's client wanted him to adjust down to 50 percent.

While reverse engineering the software, Alex encountered his first PRNG. This algorithm fascinated him as the design was intended to spew an endless series of results that were seemingly impossible to forecast. Writing such algorithm is quite complex as it requires tremendous mathematical skill. He spent 6 months learning all he could about PRNG knowing that it could be profitable if he was able to master it.

In 2008, he hired a small group to milk Novomatic machines. In 2009, Russia outlawed its casino industry, thus resulting in a massive sell-off of gaming equipment. This enabled Alex to get a hold of an Aristocrat Mark VI slot machine cabinet. He mastered how the machine's PRNG worked - and since there are more than 100,000 of such machines around the world, the Mark VI became their company's favorite prey.

As one of Alex's exit strategy, Aristocrat's Tracey Elkerton was reluctant to pay the 8 figure sum that Alex wishes to gain from the services he could provide. She asked Alex why, after many years of earning millions with his milking system, is he now eager to cut a deal with Aristocrat? Elkerton was not convinced that a cheat was made, even despite proof of photograph of a Helix machine being targeted by Alex's organization. Unable to strike a deal with Aristocrat, Alex is now toying with the idea of approaching IGT, another slot machine manufacturer. Alex also claims of selling his milking system to interested parties. One party that is interested in his system is a New York-based crew Mafiosi.

According to Alex, once he grows tired of the racket, he is prepared to exit the industry in a blaze of mischief. "Sometimes I fantasize about just putting my tech out there for everyone to use," he says. "Can you imagine something like that?" Alex asks. "It could uproot the entire slot machine industry. And the world just might become a slightly better place. Well, for most people at least."

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/meet-alex-the-russian-casino-hacker-who-makes-millions-targeting-slot-machines/

 


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17 comments for "Russian Casino Hacker Targets Slot Machines and Makes Millions"

 doubletop7778/18/2017 7:43:10 AM GMT
This guy is like something out of a James Bond film and its quite frightening how intelligent some people are. I wouldn't have the first idea where to start and its quite a story
 pochui8/18/2017 8:05:24 AM GMT
so wait a second he has the product which can basically earn you millions for doing next to nothing and he is "bored" with a company which for some reason decided to sell those products to the mass public and now he wants to sell the company which has completely illegal product as his sole product line? wtf?
 shokaku8/18/2017 8:58:19 AM GMT
It is not illegal under russian law. At least the guy claims it. So it seems to be a fair deal. Blink

Most interesting was the part, where the casino wanted him to adjust the payout of the slot to just 50%. This should set of some alarm bells.
 pajalnick8/18/2017 9:38:52 AM GMT
It's kind of like Robin Hood ..... but the difference is that if he publishes a scheme of the game to win then the casino will immediately stop using these slots for the casino .... so here no one will win .... only the casino will incur Loss and Alex awaits persecution Evil
 dule-vu8/18/2017 9:45:08 AM GMT
dont know what to say about this,he had very good business in hacking slot machines and he took millions from them,but he now stopped with this!its strange,but who know what is the reason!nice job for him!
 CALICUL8/18/2017 3:55:56 PM GMT
These mathematicians it works much better with numbers and i hear there are a few who play poker online and he earns big money. There in my country there is one who has won over two million dollars in pokerstars. Since this Russian is also a programmer no wonder he managed to make money with slot machines. These smartphones and his mind helped him to win $. Respect for this men. Worship
 Mober8/18/2017 5:19:41 PM GMT
This is one interesting story.
But how and why it got public.
He did make money hacking the slot machines and from what it looks like, he wasnt
even present at the crime scene.

One thing i didnt get though.
The ones being at the casinos, they were waiting for the smartphone to "vibrate" in order
to press the spin button? And what they were doing the rest of the time , just waiting in front of
the slot machines? Fishy...
 shokaku8/18/2017 6:05:06 PM GMT
What should be fishy about it? They want to make money and not sink it in the slot machine. So waiting for the right moment to spin is the way to go Of cause no other gambler should be waiting to use that slot machine at that time.
 av19668/18/2017 8:35:36 PM GMT
Hello my friends and fellow mobsters
This is a nice story but with some questions and doughts just like was is why is he quiting how much money did he made and can he react the system but the main thing about this story is that at last that sentence that house always wins with him around is no more true
 shokaku8/18/2017 8:48:03 PM GMT
The house will always win, or it will disapear. The manufacturers will just tweak the machines in a way, that the casinos will still come out ahead. Anything else would just lead to the end of the industry.
 Gerimantas8/19/2017 8:47:10 AM GMT
Yes very interesting read so i always think that playing slot machines is risk but now i can only see that it is big risk, some people can control the machine, casinos can set very low payouts and so I think it is better to play some blackjack and roulette and be safe and have a good time
 shokaku8/19/2017 9:13:17 AM GMT
Yep. I never did understand the attraction of slot machines. House edge is big, and game play is fast, so a players money gets sucked in in no time. Must be the chance of a jackpot win at some machines.
 Tony_MON7ANA8/19/2017 10:20:14 AM GMT
Both mathematician and computer programmer are trained to think critically and clinically in the abstract world. A combination of mathematical and computer programming knowledge can be quite advantageous.
 pajalnick8/19/2017 11:20:46 AM GMT
Posted by Tony_MON7ANA:
Both mathematician and computer programmer are trained to think critically and clinically in the abstract world. A combination of mathematical and computer programming knowledge can be quite advantageous.

Of course it's like that ... just Alex pulled this story to the surface and talked about it ... and how many similar people do the same just do not talk about it? .... maybe there are a lot of them just we do not know about them. ... it probably is
 bowie19849/4/2017 12:10:03 AM GMT
Posted by pochui:
... and he is "bored" with a company which for some reason decided to sell those products to the mass public and now he wants to sell the company which has completely illegal product as his sole product line? wtf?

He probably wants to run a legit tech stratup at this point but gathered the money for it in a wrong way. Gambling companies could care less about their softwares vulnerability he should have try reverse engineer something more worthy.
 DaCapo719/4/2017 10:22:12 AM GMT
They catched him after a long time and after he had stolen a lot of money. It was not good to read that they can steal millions of money without a warning system. But he show the slot indutry a leak i her system and this can be his price Blink
 bowie19849/5/2017 2:46:14 AM GMT
Posted by DaCapo71:
They catched him after a long time and after he had stolen a lot of money.

I am not sure that yours and mine definition about what it means to steal something is connected.

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