Waiter, There’s a Bug in my VP Machine!

Las Vegas man who rakes in half a million dollars in Video Poker – More Smarts than Luck

We’ve all been there – the bank ATM gives an extra $20 bill, or maybe the server forgot an item and your bill is less than you thought. What would you do?

Getting anything extra out of a casino sometimes fills us with unrighteous indignation! “After all, just think what they’ve taken from me!”

Well, a guy from Las Vegas turn the tables – the paytables that is – on the casinos in Las Vegas and Pennsylvania, before being caught.

Federal prosecutors have built a hacking case against a Las Vegas man who raked in half a million dollars exploiting a minor glitch in a video poker machine, Wired reports.

At the center of the hacking case is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a 1984 law used to prosecute Aaron Swartz that critics say is way too broad. The CFAA — which was originally passed to protect national security — punishes people who “exceed authorized access” to computers.

A lawyer for John Kane, the Vegas local who’s being prosecuted under the law, says that he didn’t violate the CFAA even though he did exploit a bug in a machine known as Game King.

That lawyer, Andrew Leavitt, told Wired that Kane and a friend of his were playing by the rules imposed by the machine, and that’s all that matters.

“All these guys did is simply push a sequence of buttons that they were legally entitled to push,” Leavitt said.

Here’s how that sequence worked, according to a motion Leavitt filed to dismiss the case:

If an individual is playing a $1.00 video poker machine and wins a jackpot or any other winning hand, so long as the double up feature is available for selection, currency can then be inserted into the machine. Once the currency or the voucher is inserted, the “double up” feature will be disabled. At this point, one simply needs to change the value on the machine from $1,000 to ten dollars and a $1.00 jackpot will then become a $10.00 jackpot. The individual can then hit cash out and for instance, instead of winning $820.00, the player will earn $8,200.00. Yikes!

Check out the following link to Wired to read its full analysis of the case, which rests on whether making money off this glitch “exceeds authorized access” to the video poker machine based on the CFAA. Very interesting!


That’s all for now.



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