In this post a few days ago I mentioned the Wired story about the guys who exploited a bug in a certain kind of video poker machine to “win” around $500,000. They are being prosecuted in federal court, and I wondered, “Was it a crime? I dunno.”
Well, now I think I do know, and I shouldn’t really have had to think about it at all.
The useful analogy I thought of was the cashier who has his back turned while the cash drawer is open.
If you’re his customer, do you have the right to up and grab that cash just because the business is vulnerable right then? No. That’s stealing.
It’s the same thing with these guys. They just figured out a sneakier way to open the cash drawer when no one was looking.
It’s up for the court to decide whether they are technically guilty of violating the crimes defined in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. But, yeah, I think it was criminal.
Yes, even though the victims were casinos. What they do is legal, and the payouts on all their games are strictly regulated.
The only steady, legal way to make money at a casino is to own one.