The Times and Life of Tommy Glenn Carmichael

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Tommy Carmichael was busted slot cheating twice in Las Vegas and once in Atlantic City. Before being apprehended, he also admits to defrauding hundreds of other casinos.

Carmichael was the brains behind a worldwide slot machine theft network that netted thousands of dollars from casinos.

The largest slot machine scam in history

Carmichael became immediately captivated and made the decision to abandon everything he knew and move to Las Vegas to visit this top-bottom location. He first tried it on a five-cent slot machine at a casino on the Las Vegas Strip, where he won more than $35 in nickels. He used this technique on other slot machines all weekend, feeling unstoppable, and won a sizable sum of money.

When five police officers barged into the adjoining Denny’s where Carmichael was having a mid-afternoon coffee break, they were pursuing him. He claimed to have used the top-bottom joint—which they found—as a tool to start his car. Due to his drug use and criminal background, Carmichael received a five-year prison term for this cheating episode.

Released from prison

Bally and International Game Technology unveiled a video slot machine using microprocessors and random number generation software after Carmichael was imprisoned. Carmichael had to start over because it was now difficult for him to cheat in the same way he had in the past.

Carmichael took on a few part-time jobs to supplement his income before going to Las Vegas and purchasing a video poker machine. He created and produced The Monkey Paw over more than a year.

The micro switch on this spring steel and guitar wire contraption could be activated by inserting it into the payout chute, which would cause the bucket of quarters to start paying out roughly $1,000 every hour. Unfortunately for Carmichael, advancements in slot machine technology rendered the monkey claw less helpful.

He traveled to the Las Vegas showroom and pretended to be a client who wanted to examine a machine’s interior to see whether he could still rig it. In a handful of days after buying one of the machines, Carmichael produced The Light Wand. The payout chute’s sensor would be blinded by the light’s intense brightness, prompting the machine to dispense cash.

By 1992, the device was successfully hacking slot machines across the world, and Carmichael was swiftly making thousands of dollars by distributing it to other slot machine scammers in the industry. Mostly in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Carmichael himself performed almost daily. Nevertheless, he did not limit himself to the US. Carmichael and Balsamo traveled to the Caribbean seven times in six months in 1995, taking advantage of the onboard casinos to make thousands of dollars every day.

Balsamo finally linked Ramon David Pereira and Carmichael together, forming a close-knit group of professional cheaters. It didn’t take them long to start making huge amounts of money every day after they scouted a lot of other scammers who had been active in the industry for years.