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Multi-millionaire casino cheat gives game away

A MAN who masterminded the biggest ever slot machine cheating scheme has agreed to show authorities in Las vegas how he and accomplices stole £25m a year from casinos.

Dennis Nikrasch admits using a sophisticated computer-generated device to empty the machines of their jackpots in Las Vegas. In 1997, he and a group of friends won 10 multi-million pound jackpots at six Las Vegas casinos, say prosecutors.

Now Nikrasch (57), has agreed to a plea bargain under which he will tell Nevada gaming authorities exactly how the scheme worked. He has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and money laundering and, despite the deal, expects to be jailed for up to seven years.

Nikrasch's lawyer said: ``He's awesome. The most brilliant mind I have run across in this kind of endeavour. He could have worked for a slot machine company and made a fortune.''

Gregory Damm, the assistant US Attorney prosecuting the case, said that in 1995 Nikrasch bought slot machine parts from a gaming machine company and adapted them. Then, using a computer-linked device, he was able to clean out casino machines in minutes.

Mr Damn said: ``He would select a machine and alter it while another person would act as a `blocker' standing between him and surveillance cameras that monitor acitivities in all Nevada casinos.''

``He would be in the casino for a very short time. He would fix the machine, then leave. He wasn't present when the jackpot was hit.''

Friends Nikrasch recruited to win the money would then split the jackpots with him and he would keep up to 70pc, said Mr Damm.

In 1986 Nikrasch was convicted of being part of a ring that illegally won £7m. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released on parole after five years. Some of the same investigators who worked on that case were also involved in Nikrasch's latest spree, said Mr Keith Copher, chief of enforcement for the Nevada state Gaming Control Board.

He said: ``Nikrasch has been involved in this kind of thing for years. He's very sophisticated.''

(Daily Telegraph London)

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