Many people dream to cheat in a casino but not many can. In the case of this man, however, everything worked out – to an extent. Ron Harris managed not only to outsmart a casino system but also to learn a great deal of money from it. In the end, Harrid had to face consequences for his actions and was arrested and fired from his job

It appears Ron had been conducting his crimes for years. But the most notable case that led to his downfall happened in 1995. On an ordinary January afternoon, at Bally’s casino in Atlantic City, a player named Reid Errol McNeal won an astonishing sum of $100 000 on a keno machine. This raised suspicions among the casino staff as it was the largest winning anyone had ever gotten on one of these machines. And after a little investigation, they found a link to Harris – the man behind the scam himself

So, read this GBC Time article to know the story of a man who cheated casinos for thousands of dollars. Find out who is Ron Harris and how he managed to scam the very system he was working for

Facts about Ron Harris

Before starting with the story of the scam, let us share some informative facts about Ron Harris:

  • Harris was a computer programmer living and working in Nevada state of the US;
  • He spent 12 years working for Nevada Gaming Control Board;
  • Ron’s job was to find errors in the software of casino machines. Harris routinely visited casinos to check that gaming machine chips weren’t reprogrammed, switched, or interfered with;
  • His yearly salary was about $48 000 but Harris has decided to earn a bit more;
  • Ronald was a brilliant programmer and mathematician, which helped him create meticulous cheating schemes that went unnoticed for years;
  • Harris was among the NGCB workers who discovered a famous American coin-rigged machine scam when a gambling company tampered with hundreds of slot machines so they would not pay jackpots;
  • After his crimes were unmasked, Ron was put on Nevada’s Black list. This means than he can never set a foot in a Las Vegas casino ever again;
  • Harris returned to the city of lights after serving two years in prison;
  • The Las Vegas officials changed the laws after discovering Ron’s scam.
  • TV program Breaking Vegas told Harris’ story on the Biography, History, and Discovery channels. The show features interviews with Ronald and his accomplice. The episode also has some recreations of the casino scam;
  • Harris’ casino-cheating scheme was also showcased on the Vegas Cheaters Exposed on the Travel Channel.

Who is Ron Harris?

Ron Harris

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Born on the 3rd of July 1965, Ronald Dale Harris was a gifted mathematician and technical specialist who used his skills for the wrong cause. Little is known about Ron’s early years but in 1985, he got a job as a computer technician at the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Despite his expulsion in 1997, there is still a page dedicated to Ron on the official Board’s website

Ron Harris didn’t originally intend to create a massive slot machine cheating scheme but scammed Las Vegas casinos for hundreds of thousands of US dollars. How did he manage to pull off such a stunt? Keep reading to find out

Ron Harris: Ways to Earn Money

At first, Harris was working as a casino technician, often going to Nevada’s numerous casinos to check the fairness of the games and make sure no one intertwined with the gaming machines.

EPROM scheme

When inspecting slot machines at casinos, Ronald checked their erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) codes. And this is where he saw the opportunity to cheat the system. Harris used these codes to reprogram the gaming machines’ Random Number Generator and launch winnings. Basically, the technician deleted all the memory from the microchips and replaced them with his own chips. Ronald programmed the code so the machine would pay a specific sum when a player inserted coins in a certain sequence. Typically, the sequence would go this way

  • The 1st time – 3 coins;
  • The 2nd time – 2 coins;
  • The 3d time – 2 coins;
  • The 4th time – 1 coin;
  • The 5th time – 3 coins;
  • The 6th time – 5 coins

Once a person would put in the coins this way, they would get a generous winning. And since all EPROMs were highly confidential and only Harris and a few of his coworkers had access to them, the scheme was relatively safe. What is more, the casino camera couldn’t detect the scam and the whole scheme would go unnoticed as long as a player won small sums of money. Harris used this plan numerous times to cheat Nevada casinos for thousands of dollars from 1993 to 1995. He reportedly rigged over 30 machines in the different gambling venues of the state.

About Ron Harris

The Keno machine scam

The luck, however, wasn’t on Ron Harris’s side when he decided to pull off a large scam on a Keno machine. These gaming devices have the lowest return-to-player ratio among casino machines but offer higher payouts.

 As Harris was an NGCB employee and has been often seen at casinos, he couldn’t play the machines and collect the winnings himself. So, for his last scheme, Ronald teamed up with Reid Errol McNeal.

On January 14, 1995, McNeal entered Bally’s casino in Atlantic City. He bought $100 worth of gaming tickers and went straight to keno machines. After some time, the casino staff was shocked to find out that McNeal won a total of $100 000 on keno. The odds for that win were 230 000 to 1. Not only it was an incredibly high payout for a keno machine, but it also was the highest winning at the casino ever. There were also other factors:

  • McNeal didn’t look shocked or ecstatic as should a person who just won a massive jackpot;
  • The New Jersey law requires the gaming division to verify any winning larger than $35k.

So, it is only natural that casino employees decided to check the lucky player. The authorities questioned McNeal and then went to his hotel room. There, they found the brains behind the scheme – Ron Harris. The police quickly discovered that Ronald was an NGCB employee and all the pieces of the story came together. The authorities let Harris escape when they brought McNeal downstairs for questioning. There, however, was a ton of evidence in the room – computer equipment, EPROM chips, books on keno machines at Bally’s casino, and detailed instructions Harris left for his accomplice.

The Nevada police arrested Ron Harris right at the airport. He was also immediately fired from his job. This criminal mastermind was charged with computer fraud and pled guilty in 1998. Harris also admitted to rigging a $5k jackpot at the Chrystal Bay club and scamming Fitzgerald’s casino for $9k. In the end, Ronald was sentenced to serve seven years in prison but was released after two years for good behavior.

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