The recent UK roulette scam reminds me of one of the most spectacular French casino scams ever perpetuated. I included a description of it in my book even though I had no part in the particular scam (and I never would have because it involved using tools, which I never used on any cheating moves as they constitute evidence if caught). This earlier scam used different technology from the recent UK one but was surprisingly similar in the resulting odds it yielded to the crew perpetrating it.
The French scam took place in the summer of 1973. A ham radio buff employed as a roulette dealer at the Casino Deauville on the Atlantic coast built a radio transmitter into a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, embedding the tiny receiver into a roulette ball he snuck into play. His brother-in-law placed the bets while his sister, a sexy raven-haired temptress, softly pressed an invisible button on the cigarette pack as the ball was spinning, sending it into a controlled dive which resulted in the ball’s landing in groups of six numbers with ninety percent accuracy. In a week the Casino Deauville was beat for five million francs ($1 million at the time).
The owners of the casino could not figure out what was hitting them. First they thought the wheel itself was defective and that somebody had measured it. They had experts come in and completely dismantle the wheel, examine every working piece integral to the ball's spinning around the disk and the wheel's revolutions in the opposite direction. When the astonished owners were told that the wheel was in perfect balance, and that there was not even the slightest imperfection which could produce biased outcomes, they began suspecting the dealer. They watched him secretively from above, but his motion was the same every time; he was doing nothing out of the ordinary to control the movement of the ball. It always made the same number of revolutions before going into its descent.
The scam was truly a marvel, the best I’d ever heard, and neither the ball nor the cigarette pack ever malfunctioned. Like most ingenious scams do, it came apart for a reason that had nothing to do with the scam.
The problem was that the dealer's sexy raven-haired sister was a bit too sexy and drew the attention of the principal casino owner who wanted to make her his mistress. He had subtly approached her in the casino several times while she was working the gadget. Being a chain smoker, he was often asking her for a cigarette with his apologies. The raven-haired beauty was cool and able to operate despite the man's presence. She told her husband about his advances, but he replied that the owner's libido couldn't hurt the scam, so they continued.
Finally, the owner—realizing he was going nowhere fast with the temptress—began watching her from a different eye. Why was she so often in the casino, apparently alone? Why did she always stand by the same roulette table without making more than an occasional bet? And most of all, what was the connection between her and that table losing so much money whenever she was in the casino? All the answers came when the owners, at last suspecting some kind of radio interference with the roulette wheel, had an expert debugging crew come in and sweep the casino while the wheel was in action. The next time the principal casino owner asked the temptress for a cigarette, the chief of the Deauville Police Force was there at his side to confiscate the pack and put the lovely raven-haired beauty in handcuffs.