Thursday, August 30, 2018

Should casinos have the right to prosecute a patron who stumbles upon a computer glitch and then uses it to gain free slot credits and cash out large sums of money?

Major Redeeming Credits Case
This article stems from the recent ruling of three appellate judges in a Singapore slot-machine credits case. A Hong Kong woman in the casino playing slots stumbled upon such a glitch and ended up maximizing the casino error to the tune of nearly a million bucks!

She did so by enlisting the help of two people to help her cash out the money to stay under the radar, thus preventing the casino from realizing the computer malfunction for as long as possible.

She and her two recruits were subsequently arrested and charged with conspiring to dishonestly misappropriate a large sum of casinos funds.

At trial, her lawyer argued that the case was no different than someone finding a wallet on the casino floor and keeping the money, which did actually happen in the same Singaporean casino, and ended with the acquittal of the person charged in that case.

But in this case, obviously involving lots and lots more money, the court convicted the woman and her friends of the charge and sentenced them to prison terms. The guilty parties appealed but to no avail.

The whole argument is based on, or at least should be based on, the woman's state of mind when she first came upon the glitch. She obviously had no premeditation on her mind at that moment, and only later decided to take advantage of the glitch, moving into a "conspiracy" once she brought the proposition to the two other participants.

One thing to note here is that the two other participants entered into the "conspiracy" with premeditation to take advantage of the glitch, which doesn't necessarily mean they were guilty of a crime but does mean they were never just stumblers onto a get-rich-quick scenario.

You can look at this case similarly to the Phil Ivey baccarat edge-sorting case, where he and his partner came upon defective cards in casinos and then premeditatedly used those defective cards to win millions from several casinos. In two major jurisdictions where Ivey pulled off the feat, neither charged him with a crime, in spite of his forethought to swindle the casinos out of the millions.

That said, you might think the woman taking advantage of the Singaporean computer glitch is even less guilty of a crime than Ivey was judged to be. After all, she did not come to the casino thinking of scamming it out of money, whereas Ivey and his partner did.

Also, some might believe it's just plain-old human nature for any person, or perhaps I should say "most people", to look upon the situation as serendipity and thus milk it for all it's worth. Therefore, you may think the casino is responsible for their own error and should not have the right to prosecute people who happen upon it and take advantage...especially so far as the woman is concerned.

I guess you could look at the situation somewhat differently once she got the two other people involved, seeing it as the furtherance of a conspiracy...but did that conspiracy ever really exist in the first place?

So you might still say the woman should not have been charged.

I also guess that you could look at the case of the two other people she recruited differently, since they entered the situation with the intention of ripping off the casino--if you want to call it that.

Here, you may not be so sure, but then again, how could you accuse the recruits of a crime if you're not accusing the woman who first stumbled upon the opportunity to commit the crime...if you want to call it that?

I realize all this sounds a bit discombobulating to say the least!

What do you think?