Ron Harris

Programming Skills Displayed by Ron Harris, The Casino Hacker and Gambler


It is the dream of every gambler to make hefty returns when they step into any casino. The truth is that most of the gamblers lose their money given that all casino games are carefully designed and programmed to ensure that the jackpots takes long before anyone can win it. They are also regularly reviewed to ensure that computer wizards do not find flaws and use them to win jackpots. It is imperative to assert that some casino games highly depend on the luck while others are considered games of skills where people can beat the system. Gambling is addictive. Through gambling, many people have lost their fortunes while others have made huge gains from the casinos.
Some gamblers have outsmarted the computer programs and succeeded in making huge amounts of money for themselves. Beating the computer system is not easy but with adequate knowledge on software programs, some wizards have been able to cheat the system and earned massive jackpots. Ron Harris is one of the few gamblers who were able to beat the system and make many returns from jackpot winnings in the 1990’s, before he was known by the authorities.
Invention of the slot machines dates back to 1890’s. Soon after, people started cheating the system owing to their brilliance thus, making the programmers hire the services of technology experts whose work would be to identify and fix flaws on the system. In gambling, the aspect of greed cannot be wished away. People wishing to make quick money using the slot machine will always be present. The history has seen some of the gamblers who excelled in their art and cheated the system like Ron Harris.
Born in 1956 as Ronald Dale Harris, Ron Harris came to be known for betraying his employer, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB). At the NGCB, Harris was hired as a computer programmer and technician. Owing to his position and immense computer programming skills, Harris was able to cheat the Las Vegas casino systems and stole millions of dollars. He worked at the electronic division thus, being able to examine computer chips as a state agent. Particularly, he was responsible for examining new slot machines and the number generators of the famous keno games.
As he was examining the system, he stumbled upon some faults in how the chips were programmed. The computer chips were known as EPROM, which stood for erasable programmable read only memory. Harris was able to erase the chip memories and programmed them using his own programs to enable the machines payout jackpots when the gamblers followed certain sequence of numbers. As a state agent, he had the responsibility of reporting such flaws but instead decided to benefit from the shortcomings of the programs. During his studies of the flaws, he discovered a way of setting the chips on specified slot machines and play games with the view to winning big jackpots. He used this strategy to make big winning and over the years, the authorities could not identify him thus, using the opportunity to work with different persons in order to make more winnings without being noticed.
Harris was able to hide his cheating software in the slotting machines unnoticed. He did this by coding the hidden software that was trapped by a switch when a gambler inserted coins in a prearranged pattern that would eventually prompt cash jackpots. By the time he was noticed, Harris had retooled over 30 machines making hundreds of dollars. With the growth of technology, new challenges face casinos as the young programmers have been using their knowledge to corrupt the slot machines to giving out cash jackpots.
Harris focused on keno, which was a game based on probability. With his intelligence and insider knowledge, he was able to develop a program that would help him know the different integers that would be picked by the RNG (Random Number Generator). By the time of his capture in 1995, Harris had stolen for over two years but remained unnoticed as he went for smaller amounts that would not elicit suspicion from the authorities. His brilliance in creating source codes and modifying slot machines put him among the most illustrious gamblers of the past millennium.
Had he not focused on having much greed and gone for smaller jackpots, he would probably be making an earning from cheating the system without being noticed. His ability to cheat the system came to a halt when his friend, Reid Errol McNeal won a keno jackpot of $100k. Harris’s theft was discovered at the Bally’s Park Place Casino located in Atlantic City. When McNeal won the jackpot, he was not emotional and lacked identifications on himself thus, making the officials apprehensive of the win. He wanted to be paid in cash irrespective of knowing that the New Jersey law required that the state officials in charge of gaming verify any winnings of over $35,000.
On visiting McNeal in his house, the state officials found him and Harris. Through an interview, Harris was able to know that he was about to be discovered and decided to escape. When the officers went back to the house, they found that Harris had gone but got vital information and evidence materials in the form of books, computer equipment and notes describing how the different random numbers could be modified. Later on, the gaming officials realized that he was a state agent in charge of checking and testing slots machines as required by the Nevada Gaming Casino Board.
Owing to his duties as a state agent of the NGCB, he was able to fix his chips at the keno machines at the Atlantic City without raising any eyebrows. His chip would perfectly determine the number that would emanate next from the keno machine. Harris was eventually found in authorities of Nevada at the Las Vegas airport. He lost his work with the NGCB owing to his thievery acts. According to the casino regulations, any gambler caught cheating or violating the gambling ethics is listed on the black book, which is a list of offenders on casino-related offences. Once on the black book, a gambler is barred from entering into casinos around the globe.
In July of 1998, Harris pleaded guilty to his charges of attempted theft through deception. He was indicted alongside his two friends and his ex-wife for rigging slot machines after officials investigated his past activities while working at the NGCB. If McNeal was carrying with him his identification papers, it is only imaginable how far Harris would have gone and how much money he would have made with his brilliance in programming the chips that he inserted in the slotting machines.